I was in London in 1977 for a short stay; I saw advertisements in the London underground for Bhagawan Soaham “ASTROLOGER” and wrote down the contact address thinking I’d go and see him later.
A couple days after, I made my way via a train to Wandsworth, to his “headquarters” which was little more than a small shop front. I went in and waited until he would see me, and then asked 3 questions. His answers showed he was telepathic, but weren’t very relevant to me. I returned to Adelaide a week later and forgot about Bhagawan Soaham for more than a year until one day when I found a pamphlet I’d picked up in his office that was published in 1970, a 10,000 print run. A picture of him was on the cover, looking stern and not very handsome! However, I wasn’t put off and wrote a letter. What I got in return some months later was a price list for Amulets, Charms, and “months” of prayers. The cheapest option was 1 month of prayers for 1 pound, or a general purpose charm for 9 pounds.
I tried the charm and sent my cheque off. One month passed and then the postman came to my door asking me to sign for a registered letter. I saw it was from Soaham and agreed to his request. Inside the envelope was a small, silver amulet about the size of a cigarette filter. It didn’t seem very ‘magical’ so I put it somewhere safe and forgot about it!
Upon reading the pamphlet, I got the impression that people were impressed by the amount of money he had earned through astrology and ‘prayers’ and although it wasn’t a huge sum, it suggested that quite a few had employed his services. But my interest, if any, was in his World Peace quest. I’d seen several Indians going after the same goal, and most had large followings that generated large revenues. There was the Maharishi, who’d been made famous by The Beatles, and his plans that involved a billion dollar trust fund set up to help alleviate world poverty; he didn’t yet actually have the $1,000,000,000 but his plans were quite advanced and detailed and he had many followers who had pledged their lives for the World Plan’s success. His methodology involved “Vedic Flyers” who were usually westerners trained to ‘levitate’ an inch or so in short hopping movements; and the teaching of the supposedly God inspired Rig Veda. Other points of the ‘plan’ included the formation of a World Government of the “Age of Enlightenment” which was situated at a small university campus on a mountain in Switzerland. [Maharishi Vedic Universities]
Another Indian with the same type of goal was known as Maharaji, or Prem Rawat – a young Indian Catholic school boy who travelled the world giving speeches about something called “knowledge.” [Words of Peace website] As it turned out, “knowledge” was only 4 specific Raj Yoga techniques you could learn almost anywhere, but with Prem Rawat you had to undergo a 6 to 9 month “preparation” course, so called, to get it. This involved watching films of talks given by him in the various places he’d been to; and there was a cost to it as well. Back in the 70s people would sell or give away all their possessions to “prepare” for knowledge, and they’d also attend international gatherings in places like Texas where Maharaji was described as the second coming! Usually, people got very interested in “knowledge” very quickly and more often than not, would move into shared houses with others who had the same ambitions to get knowledge. They called these shared houses, ashrams and you were supposed to live there for more than a year until you got “knowledge.” I’ve known quite “intelligent” people with high university degrees moving into an ashram and changing their diet away from meat and carrying on as if nothing had really changed. One in particular was a Child Physiatrist named Sarah, who’s father had been an English Professor at Adelaide Uni. He was dead set against it all and gave special open lectures on the subject in which he denounced the whole thing as a cult and one to be avoided. Sarah, didn’t care and went on to get “knowledge” and still had her practice from where she would put very young children onto heavy mind altering drugs. She didn’t seem to see that as a conflict. And she was ‘happy’ to invest more than 15 years of her life in the whole scene.
Eventually, though, both these ‘movements’ lost so much credibility and financial backing that they were forced to re-organise and just about re-name themselves. It seems almost ludicrous to think that Maharaji’s followers like to advertise the fact that he gave a talk to some UN sponsored group in some South East Asian country. They see this as confirmation of his legitimacy. But all it shows, is that if you are persistent enough, you get noticed by people in positions of power and influence. They don’t help financially, or take up the practice themselves, but they provide a platform for the ideas and plans to be disseminated from.
Soaham was slightly different in that his followers didn’t number in the 10s of thousands, and his ‘income’ was relatively small. He didn’t do much advertising or brainwashing, such as Maharishi and Prem Rawat did, but what he did do was extremely effective. After all, I did see one of his large posters in the British Underground!
I’m adding 2 excerpts from the pamphlet to show how people like to build things up in their own minds when they have a focus.
By PRAFUL R. C. PATEL
[Mr. Praful R. C. Patel is a businessman from East Africa settled in London. He takes active’ part in social uplift, education and welfare of Immigrants in Britain. During the Kenya Asian crisis of February 1968, as President of NAVA KALA INDIA SOCIO_CULTURAL CENTRE and due to his membership of many immigrant bodies, he became spokesman for the East African Asians in London. He formed an all_party parliamentary body representing members of both the Houses of Parliament, THE COMMITTEE ON UNITED KINGDOM CITIZENSHIP, who’s Honorary Secretary he has been since its formation. The Committee campaigns to restore full rights to U.K. passport holders and resolve the whole question of immigration on a Commonwealth scale.]
I am very happy to introduce this book about a well-known Indian Astrologer, who has settled in Great Britain. Astrology has a special importance for Indian people and even today traditional families consult an astrologer in the selection of suitable partners in marriage, and in arranging all. important dates and enterprises. Jyotish Shastra, the science of Astrology, is a very ancient one, and there are marvellous legends of lost astrological masterpieces in which the particulars of every living person, past, present or future, are said to be inscribed.
Astrology came from the East many centuries ago, and western interest in the subject has never ceased, although many modern materialists regard it as mere superstition. It should be said that very famous western scholars have supported the basic tenets of astrology, and one need only cite the late Dr. Richard Garnett, Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum, London, who was a firm believer in astrology. Nowadays most of the leading national newspapers in Britain include a section of astrological notes, and these are often the first items to which many readers turn, sometimes seriously, sometimes half in jest.
I cannot claim to be an authority on astrology or on the skill of various exponents of this science. I am a practical man, and all my time is taken up by the everyday problems of Indian people in Britain and by the struggle for racial harmony and justice: it is possible that astrology might not be a positive stimulus to my hopes and fears.
But I do know something about the originator of this book Shree Bhagawan Soaham, and, I should like to mention some facts which reveal something of the man himself.
Nine years ago, when NAVA KALA INDIA SOCIO-CULTURAL CENTRE was established, Shree Soaham made a large donation to our funds, which helped us in our task of promoting artistic and cultural exchange between East and West. Since then he has continued to make generous contributions to our work.
Last year, during the Kenyan Asian crisis, Shree Soaham provided open home and hospitality to Asians who were obliged to leave Africa in the famous exodus caused by reckless politicians and broken promises. Shree Soaham proved himself a true friend to those in need, providing food, accommodation, and helping Asians to find employment. He has large heart, and is a true philanthropist.
In the ten years I have known him, his generosity and kindness have attracted me, and I know he is an individual who has a lot to offer to mankind. Westerners, who are accustomed to stereotyped personalities, will find that Shree Soaham typified the unusual individualism of India, where people are unique characters who defy facile classification. They follow the bent of their mind in their own way, and usually have a sense of humour which mocks at pomposity. Shree Soaham is also typical of the faith and sincerity of Indian religion which has survived even in the age of industrialisation and five-year plans. His campaign for World Peace is, unconventional, but his spiritual disciplines and austerities are very real, in contrast to the pious platitudes, of so many present-day politicians.
I respect his intentions, and wish him every success. I hope this little book will show that sincerity, will power, faith and self-sacrifice are still essential virtues in modern life.
LONDON, JUNE 1969.
BHAGAWAN SOAHAM _ LOVE INCARNATE
By Prof. MADHUKAR R. RANDERIA, M.A.
[Prof. Madhukar R. Randeria, M. A., Development Officer, DENA BANK, Bombay (India) was formerly Professor of Gujarati Language and Literature, Head of the Department in a leading local college. Later, he was Resident Director of Shri Brihad Bharatiya Samaj, an institution for overseas Indians. He is a man of learning and erudition and is an author of a score of books on various subjects. As a writer he wields a facile pen. He is a talented playwright and an artist of the first rank and is a Member of the Music, Dance & Drama Akademi of the Gujarat State. He is associated with many prominent Social, Literary, Educational, and Cultural institutions.]
I admit it as bad luck that I have not seen and not met the great celebrity that goes under the name of Bhagawan Soaham. It was my friend Yahyabhai Lokhandwala who gave me interesting and edifying reading material about this great soul, and I must express my thankfulness to him for that privilege given to me. The material has opened a vista of the potentiality of human resolution which is not merely an idle reverie. The resolution seems to gain strength from the concept of universal love and welfare of the people of the world. I adore and admire Bhagawan Soaham for the confidence that he has in his mission and the conviction that he holds for anything that he undertakes. His ‘Penance for Peace’ programme, if anything, is a self-imposed challenge to SELF. Yes, lovers of humanity and peace alone can throw such challenges and pick them up also. ‘BHAGAWAN’ and ‘SOAHAM’ only means that.
It was on his 57th birthday, on April 2nd 1967 that Bhagawan Soaham, acknowledged as the leading Hindu astrologer palmist and prayer master in Britain, embarked on a spiritual campaign for world peace that has captured the imagination and admiration of millions throughout the world who have read about it.
Spread over 21 years, it is an individual campaign of increasingly rigorous self-denial, a mortifying of the flesh to attain true spirituality in order to unleash the full power of prayer.
Bhagawan Soaham’s WORLD PEACE SOAHAM TAPA YAGNA, or Sacrifice of Penance, began in 1967 on his solar birthday week with the maintenance of strict silence on every Friday and fasting every Friday during the year. In 1968 he maintained silence for two days every week i.e. every Thursday and Friday, and commenced his Solar birthday week with two days fasting followed by one day’s fasting every week for the rest of the year.
Every subsequent year he will increase his day of silence by one more day a week and he will begin his Solar birthday with as many days fasting as the number of days of silence in the week for that year followed by one day’s fasting every week for the rest of the year. On the 7th year he will maintain complete silence throughout the year, commencing fasting for 7 days at the beginning of the solar year on his birthday followed by one day’s fasting per week for the rest of the year. On the 21st year of the cycle i.e. in 1988 he will begin the solar year on his birthday with 21 days of fasting followed by one day’s fasting in a week for the rest of the year.
It will be a silence not of passivity but of active and pregnant concern for humanity.
“The vibration from my spiritual concentration will go all over the world”, says Bhagawan Soaham. “It will not be an abstract praying into a void. I will have on my wall a map of the world and photographs of the world’s leaders. My spiritual energies, will be focussed on the actual minds of people and on existing states of war.
“But I shall not be alone. I am asking my numerous followers and supporters throughout the world to join me in penance and prayers for world peace, and around me in the Ashram or hermitage I intend to establish in my native India, I will have dedicated followers joining in mass as well as individual prayer. As my influence spreads, the vibrations will expand until they encircle the .globe.”
It is an ambition that might seem over weaning had it come from the lips of an egotistical man. But Bhagawan Soaham is the opposite of that. Despite the veneration in which he is held by his close followers, despite the tens of thousands of testimonials to his supernatural powers that he has received from grateful clients in many parts of the world, he remains essentially a modest man. He may have his head in the clouds, but his feet are very firmly on the ground.
“I see myself as quite an ordinary person, but with God-given powers and a mission to perform,” he says. “My purpose for the remainder of my life and I hope to live to be 150, is to purify my own Self and to attain greater and greater spirituality. When I started my Sacrifice of Penance I gave up smoking (I had been a chain-smoker), alcohol and meat. In 1968 I renounced any preparation of wheat, rice, millet, maize or Juwar till the period that India became self-sufficient in food. For me this is not just a campaign for world peace and prosperity. It is a new life, a personal rebirth.”
Once questioned by a close friend of his about the meaning of the word ‘SOAHAM’, he said, ‘It only means ‘LOVE’. If I possess the same intensity of love for all those who dwell upon this earth, which I have for my SELF (and the Geeta calls it _ Atma aupamya), I am SOAHAM indeed. In wider sense, one who transcends his Ego (the I) becomes SOAHAM (I am HE).’
Explaining the word BHAGAWAN, he said, Bhagawan need not necessarily be translated or, understood as GOD. Bhagawan is an epithet applied to, revolutionaries, statesmen, super intellectuals, king makers, reformists, and to men who possess powers of a superman, who are supreme, who abandon worldly objects in daily life but aren’t mendicants attired in saffron_coloured robes, who possess knowledge. and inspiring power with a difference, who spend their energies for the welfare of people at large, and who trot on the globe as saviours of the poor and the down trodden. Indian epics and history abound in names of characters to whom this word is applied as interpreted by me’.
This is the creed of SOAHAM. It correlates to none. Under the banner of this creed, he has nothing to preach. In his words, ‘my own conduct should serve as the best precept and example of what I wish to convey to people’.
And asked why he does not put his thoughts into a book form for the benefit of the posterity, his simple answer was, “Has any God ever written a book himself?”
No, he has not. And therefore this writer ventures here to portray a profile of this remarkable character of the present day.
To appreciate the ordinary aspects of a man whom so many now regard as remarkable, it is necessary to go back to April 2nd, 1910, when he was born at Nadiad in Gujarat. His Hindu name was Bhailalbhai Muljibhai Patel, and he was the only son of a wealthy landowner, with many properties on his estate. Bhailal’s father Muljibhai was a clever and calculating man of the world. With hard work, business acumen and good luck he had amassed wealth, which however had created a highbrow complex in him and made him a man of temper, and niggardly on money matters. Young Bhailalbhai on many occasions had tough conflicts and faced resultant tensions when dealing with his father, but with his own cool headedness even after provocation, keen sense of humour, persuasive power, and practical approach to the solution of problems, could pacify his anger, and always have an edge over him. His days of juvenility abound in such episodes.
Groomed in the days of childhood in the heroism of the stories of the great Indian epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, he later developed interest in games and sports and turned out to be a good athlete and a swimmer; while under contemporary unorthodox social atmosphere, he was building himself up as a reformer.
At the age of five he started at the Municipal School and proved himself an apt pupil. The first turning point in his life came between the ages of ten and eleven. Two experiences exerted powerful, and slightly conflicting influences on his young mind: one spiritual, the other political.
At 10 his mother died and he came under the care of his elder sister,. She was a deeply religious girl, widely read in Hindu scriptures. He had been used to regular attendance at the temple with his parents. But under his sister’s more fervent example he became aware of the deeper aspects of the spiritual life. He felt the stirrings of an innate hunger for spirituality within himself. The belief grew in him that he was destined for higher things.
The second influence was concentrated in the magnetic personality and genius of Mahatma Gandhiji, that great moulder of India’s destiny, a visionary as much as a politician. It was an influence that lasted with him down the years, as testified by the garlanded portrait of him that still holds a place of honour on his wall.
In 1921, when Bhailalbhai (as he was then called) was eleven, Gandhiji launched the fateful movement that was eventually to lead to independence for India. The immediate impact on Bhailalbhai was the boycotting of the Government school and his shift to a National School. And, although too young at the time to recognise the full implications of Gandhiji’s momentous appearance on the stage of history, Bhailalbhai felt another stirring in his mind, a patriotic fervour, a hunger for freedom, which was later to lead him to prison in the steps of his great leader.
But, although these two influences, spiritual and political, were powerfully at work in his subconscious mind at the time, Bhagawan Soaham frankly admits today that they were not primarily responsible for the lack of attention he paid to his studies and his disappointing academic record. Though highly intelligent and possessing a keenly enquiring mind, there was an extrovert side to his nature which found an outlet in games. He had a particular passion for cricket, excelling as a batsman and a fielder. In fact he paid more attention to a scoreboard than to a blackboard. At the end of his school career in 1928 (he gone to a private school after two years at the National School) he failed in his final examination.
But just before that had come another turning point in his life, an incident that he regarded as a miracle the beginning of a rebirth. It happened one a day when he had gone to the bazaar after lunch. He was passing by a shop when the owner called out to him. He said he had to go to the wholesalers for an hour or two and asked if he could very kindly look after the shop for him in his absence.
Bhailalbhai obligingly agreed and settled down in the chair behind the counter. Bored after a while, he found a book in a drawer of the counter and took it out. It was a lecture by Swami Rama Tirth, a celebrated professor of philosophy at Lahore, one of a number of lectures he had given during tours in America, England, and Japan.
Bhailalbhai began to read idly but soon became engrossed. There was a time when he would have found it a dry dissertation on religious subjects. But now his eyes were opened. What he was reading about were the fundamentals of human existence. Who am I? Where am I going9 What is the meaning of life?
When the shopkeeper came back, he noticed with approval that he had the book open in front of him. Bhailalbhai showed the excitement he felt and pointed to a word he had not understood. “Brahma”, he asked, “What does that mean?” The shopkeeper said that it would take time to understand its meaning. Not just time but many births”. Bhaila1bhai asked how he could learn to understand. The shopkeeper explained that it would take a long and hard discipline to attain understanding. He invited him to come and see him again.
The upshot was that Bhailalbhai was introduced to the Guru or Holy Man who was to change the course of his life His Holiness Mahant Shree Jankidasji of Shree Santram Temple at Nadiad. He was to spend a good part of the next twelve years, directly or indirectly, under the spiritual influence of this great philosopher and mystic. It was he who gave Bhailalbhai his spiritual name of Soaham, which means “I am He”.
But these twelve years were by no means all spent on a spiritual plane. They were interwoven with activities and developments in three different fields personal, academic and political.
In 1927 the marriage that had been arranged for him, took place according to Hindu custom. A marriage that was blessed by a son and a daughter, who today are not least among those who venerate his Sacrifice of Penance. His wife Radhabahen’s parents were themselves followers of his Guru.
On the academic side he wiped out the traces of the memory of his failures at school examinations by passing the matriculation at the age of 27_a novel experience in which he found himself being taught by some of his former school friends. Later he took private tuition for a year at a Law College. He had an ambition at the time to become a barrister, but this did not materialise.
On the political front, his veneration for Gandhiji and his fervour for the emancipating ideal for which he stood, brought him into active participation in the Nonviolence Movement aimed at casting off the yoke of British Imperialism. In 1932 he had his first taste of prison life when he was sentenced to six months for picketing. For the average political agitator prison was an irksome, soul deadening experience, but like the saintly Gandhiji himself, Bhagawan Soaham found it the reverse.
To him a prison cell proved the ideal retreat in which to follow his calling, to read books on religions, philosophy, and astrology, to practise the Yoga exercises that are an essential part of the mastery of Self and the strengthening of the powers of concentration, and to meditate on the deeper meanings of existence.
Two other lengthy spells in prison followed. In 1940 he had joined the Indian National Congress’s Freedom of Speech movement and was gaoled for nine months for speaking for that cause. Again, after a short period, he was detained for six months for the same cause. Today he has a warm, but somewhat amusing recollection of the puzzled Irish Superintendent who was in charge of the prison. Bhagawan Soaham kept a strict vow of silence throughout his term of imprisonment, and others also followed his path of silence. But every day the Superintendent would visit him to ask: “Is there anything you want?” And every day Bhagawan Soaham would write on his pad “No”. All that he desired was access to books, and .that was freely granted. During those months he read over sixty books that confirmed his faith and enlarged his vision.
In 1942, as an active member of the Quit India Movement, he was back in gaol for ten months. By this time he had a complete grasp of astrology and palmistry. Apart from what he had learned from his own Guru, he had, in 1936, taken an intensive four month course in astrology under Shree Gaurishanker Krishnaram Vyas, India’s leading astrologer at the time. And in prison (not this time a silent One) he did much to relieve the tedium of his fellow prisoners by conducting classes in astrology and palmistry.
It was in 1942, while still in this gaol, that Bhagawan Soaham was faced with one of the most testing decisions of his life. At the time when the Quit India Campaign started his father had a stroke which led to partial paralysis. They had discussed together what was the right thing for Bhagawan Soaham to do. And they had agreed that, as his father was wealthy enough to have all the medical attention that could be required, it was clearly his duty to take an active role as an agitator.
But when news reached him in prison that his father had had a second, serious stroke, he was faced with a harrowing dilemma. A friend had written to him and the Government authorities applying for, “mercy bail” for him and every one urged him to avail himself of it. But Bhagawan Soaham saw the choice as being between service to his father and service to his country. For he knew that to leave prison, for however urgent a reason, could be construed as a humble acceptance of “mercy” being handed out by a Government he was vowed to oppose in every way.
It was his faith that sustained him when he firmly refused to accept the “mercy bail”. He thought of all that his Guru had taught him and of the holy name he had bestowed upon him. “Tell my father that I pray for him and will soon see him”, he said.
When he was released from prison at the end of his term, his father was still alive. He lived for another month, under his son’s devoted care. Bhagawan Soaham’s prayers had been answered, as he knew they would be.
After returning from prison, he was twice elected member of the Nadiad Borough Municipality on Congress ticket.
But it was less on the tumultuous stage of political agitation that Bhagawan Soaham’s destiny was being shaped during this period as in the quiet depths of his own soul. This burning desire was to see farther, to see more clearly. He had the mystic’s urge to probe into the innermost recesses of his own being and from there to see beyond Self, to identify himself with the Infinite.
This innate leaning towards the holy life had been manifest at the age of 16, when he went on a pilgrimage to the Gir Forest in Gujarat in search of the holy hermits who lived solitary lives of prayer and contemplation, far from the distractions of civilisation.
The adolescent Bhailalbhai was in search of hermits in whom he could find an example of ascetic holiness. And he was disappointed. None of the hermits whom he met impressed him with any saintliness or shed a light on his spiritual path. As they sat outside their huts or caves to receive the offerings from pilgrims he found about them more of self-satisfaction than spirituality.
At the age of 21 he went to the Forest of Surpan on the bank of the holy river Narmada in search of yogis, where he met one who, satisfied him to some extent.
Bhagawan Soaham was 22 when he himself went into retreat at Hardwar near the source of the sacred Ganges in the Himalayas. He was to spend over two years there in a life of seclusion devoted to studies, prayer, meditation and the practice of yoga. It was almost certainly in his soul searching, contemplative period that the seeds were sown which now bear fruit in his Sacrifice of Penance.
To Western minds there is an inherent difficulty in grasping the significance, the motivating force and the aims of Eastern mysticism, whose roots go so far back into the mists of time. Nowhere is this more evident than in the practice of Yoga. To the average Westerner this is merely identified with physical fitness, involving difficult convolutions of the body, an exercise in concentration and willpower that can even lead to ‘miraculous’ feats. But Yoga practised solely for egoistic reasons is a comparatively worthless pursuit. Its true purpose is immeasurably more enriching.
“The practice of Yoga” said Bhagawan Soaham, “brings us face to face with the extraordinary complexity of our Being, the rich endless confusion of our Nature. Yoga plunges into all the multiple profundities of the soul. We find ourselves surrounded by a whole complex world which we have to know and to conquer. Our purpose in Yoga is to exile the Ego and to enthrone God in its place as the ruling inhabitant of our Nature,
“By Yoga we can rise out of falsehood into truth, out~ of weakness into force, out of pain into bliss, out of bondage into freedom, out of death into immortality, out of darkness into light, out of confusion into purity, out of imperfection into perfection, out of self division into unity”.
The life and spiritual achievements of Indian Yogis have been without doubt one of the most potent of all influences and inspirations to Bhagawan Soaham. And it was at Hardwar, in the seclusion of his private room, that he first became attuned to the Power of Silence which that great mystic recognised as being so much greater than the power of speech. In the 15 years of total silence that he has now prepared for himself, he will be entering fully into that blessed state indicated in some of the famous sayings of the Indian Yogis.
“The silence does not reject the world: it sustains it.”
“It is in the inner silence of the mind that true consciousness can be built.”
“When the mind is still, Truth gets her chance to be heard in the purity of silence.”
“It is in thought that comes in a quiet or silent mind that there is power.”
“All speech and action come prepared out of the eternal silence. Silence prepares, speech manifests. Silence acts, speech gives the impulse to action. Silence compels, speech persuades.”
“To be capable of silence, stillness, illumined passivity, is to be fit for immortality.”
But it was a long road that Bhagawan Soaham, had to tread from that oasis of spiritual tranquillity among the snow peaks of the Himalayas to the fruition of his dream that is now within sight. Like anyone else he had to earn a livelihood and after his father’s death he knuckled down to the administration of his estate. Soon his energies drove him to venture into the field of business.
In April 1944 he launched a financing and commission business with a partner. At the end of the first year it was a flourishing concern, but then disaster soon struck it.
Soaham had to close the business and had to sell all the property his father had bequeathed him in order to pay back every one who had deposited money in the firm. He was suddenly a poor man.
A partner gave him some land against the loss and he was beginning to find his feet again when the land was appropriated by the socialist authorities. It was then that his thoughts turned to astrology, Palmistry and shadow reading as a profession.
Bhagawan Soaham, before taking to astrology as profession, served as a Bank employee for about two years, and as a supervisor in the Navajeevan press and also as a clerk for a period of six months in Surat (Gujarat) at the time when the census was taken. It is interesting to note, that in 1936, he worked as a ‘Shoeshine boy’ in Poona, just to show it to his friends that he considered no profession or vocation as mean and lowly. For a decade that is from 1937 to 1947, he worked as an enthusiastic Congress party man.
On August 15th 1947 Bhagawan Soaham, opened a College of Astrology at Ahmedabad. The venture proved a highly successful one, and over the next seven years his reputation as an accurate foreteller of the future and a curer of diseases and distress by the Power of prayer rapidly increased.
In 1954, he reached another turning point in his life It had been his early ambition to travel, to gain know ledge of other races, other cultures, other faiths. At 27 he had even made tentative plans to go round the world on bicycle with three or four friends. Now the lure of the world beyond India became irresistible. He had many friends who had immigrated to East Africa and who had for long been urging him to join them. Finally he agree
At the start he had difficulties in obtaining the necessary residential permits and decided to move from Kenya to Zanzibar. With the help of a friend he got a three months temporary permit to go to Zanzibar. His entry there was made possible in a remarkable way. The Immigration Officer had proved difficult until he offered to read his fortune. He gave him long-term guidance on his career and marriage. He also foretold that he would be getting a substantial rise in his salary within the next few days. It was when this forecast came true that the amazed and delighted Immigration Officer ironed out all the difficulties of entry. A permanent permit was secured under the guidance of the Immigration Officer and with help from friends and relatives.
It would require much space to catalogue all the notable successes achieved by Bhagawan Soaham during those seven years in Zanzibar and Kenya. Suffice it to say that a solid reputation as an astrologer, palmist and faith healer of exceptional talent had preceded him when he arrived in England in 1961 with savings amounting to £2,000 and a mission to widen as far as possible his services to Humanity. His family came to England in 1964.
In England, Bhagawan Soaham has gone from strength to strength and his fame has now spread to many parts of the world, including America, the West Indies, Africa, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. On his files are the
names of some 38,000 people of all races, creeds, classes, and professions who have written to him for help and advice and few of whom have been disappointed.
Bhagawan Soaham is a seer and a humanist, but he is also a shrewd businessman, as befits a member of the Gujarati community which is noted throughout India for its acumen. That is not to say that he is in any way a devotee of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, and Prosperity. Money to him is a means of making more widely available his powers for good. While his reputation has been grounded on extensive advertising in carefully selected magazines and newspapers in many countries, it has been consolidated by the personal recommendations that have flowed from grateful clients. Of the extent and range of these the readers can judge for themselves from the appendix of testimonials under the caption ‘Expression of Gratitude’, at the end of this booklet.
The astrology as practised by Bhagawan Soaham bears no relation to the mumbo jumbo of the horoscopes one reads in newspapers and magazines. To foretell a client’s future he requires precise details of his or her birth, down to the exact hour and if possible minute. To him astrology is a science and he estimates the degree of, accuracy of his forecasts as at least 75%.
Palmistry he regards as a somewhat less exact science. It is in the power of prayer that he is the firmest believer. Only a small minority of his clients visits him personally. Much of the healing and helping he has achieved has been through prayers. More than 500 lucky charms and talismans alone, over which he has concentrated his spiritual powers, are sent by him every year to clients in every kind of need.
The majority of his clients are women and a recurring problem, especially in England, is that of an unhappy marriage or love affair. Bhagawan Soaham believes that the one sure recipe for a happy marriage is when the horoscopes of husband and wife have been carefully matched beforehand. But there are numerous testimonials to prove what he has been able to do for estranged couples by prayers recited over talismans or other objects, magnetically drawing the couple together and making them attracted to each other.
Bhagawan Soaham. has also had notable success in faith healing. A dramatic example was that of the woman who was brought to him writhing and screaming in hysteria in the grip of three men. As he concentrated the power of prayer on her, she grew quieter, the screaming stopped, and very soon she relaxed and was her old smiling self again. Among ailments and diseases he has completely cured by “absent prayers” are listed tuberculosis, sciatica, asthma, heart trouble and varicose veins.
Since he first came to London and.lodged in a, modest rented flat at 306 Finchley Road, Bhagawan Soaham’s material status has changed out of all recognition. By 1968 he had two clerical assistants working for him at his headquarters in Wandsworth, and an elegant family house, in Golders Green, an annual income estimated at £10,000, with endowment policies for the same amount and shares in mining companies and store groups.
But one does not have to be in his company for long to realise that amassing wealth is in no way a motivating force in his life. His generosity has become a byword, especially among immigrants from Asia and Africa. He spends some amount a month on the soup kitchen he established in a house near his headquarters and where a bed for the night as. well as food is always available to those in need. He has offered a loan free of interest to anyone desiring to buy property, although there have been occasions when loans have not been paid back.
Money to him is a means to humanitarian end, and his own way of life is Spartan and ascetic. He is up every day at 5 a.m. for a concentrated session of prayers, meditation and yoga. Much of his morning is spent in dealing with his voluminous mail, the afternoon in providing guidance and concentrating prayer on the needs of his clients. He eats sparingly and on fasting days drinks only water. He allows himself little leisure and has rarely been outside London.
To the tens of thousands of people scattered around the world to whom he has brought renewed hope and vitality, the personality of Bhagawan Soaham must be a matter of wonder. The immediate impression one receives as he sits at his desk in his study under the garlanded portrait of his beloved political Guru Gandhi is of an all-pervading warmth and friendliness. His voice is gentle and musical, his eyes smiling.
“He’s a short happy man with shoulder length greying hair, and is teetering on the margin of rotundity”, was how a journalist described him in “The Guardian”. “He’s like one of those benign little toys that you try to knock over which always equably bounces back.”
It may not be one’s preconceived idea of a seer and an ascetic, but it is one, which Bhagawan Soaham, who has a rich sense of humour, would not disagree. He has certainly had his knocks in life but equipoise and faith in the future are fundamental to his nature. Yet this is only the surface impression of an ‘ordinary man’ who is now entering the realms of the extraordinary.
Bhagawan Soaham’s vision of a world living in harmony and peace is an idealistic one, but the dramatic role he has set for himself has been worked out with practical deliberation. His Sacrifice of Penance constitutes. a careful progression towards total silence and more rigorous fasting. “It would be difficult to maintain years of silence without adequate preparation,” he says. “I shall be developing my powers, in the coming years and work up to it gradually.”
In the next few years he hopes to visit the United States, South America, West Africa, and Europe, absorbing the problems of humanity. He does not know at what stage he will return to India. But basic to his vision is the setting up of an Ashram, preferably near the sea or a river, or on a mountain. In the Ashram he would constitute the focal point, the ‘spiritual dynamo,’ of a dedicated community of close followers. They would not only participate in mass and private prayer for peace, but do useful work in the social field as an example of peaceful coexistence. His dream extends further to, the setting up of similar Ashrams in other parts of India.
In a materialistic world, floundering in the wake of the technological ‘advances’ of physical science, Bhagawan Soaham sees the pressing need to focus attention on the vast unexplored field of a far greater science, the science of the Spirit. He sees his Ashram not as a retreat from the world, but as a spiritual laboratory, a powerhouse of prayer, vibrating for the salvation of humanity.
“I can see more and more manifestly that man can never get out of the futile circle the race is treading until he has raised himself on a new foundation”, was once said by Bhagawan Soaham, after seeing the emergence of what he called the Supermind, enshrined in men of spiritual purity and power of whatever race or creed.
The ultimate vision is also that of Bhagawan Soaham. “If a collectivity or group could be formed of those who have reached the supramental perfection, then indeed some divine creation could take shape. A new earth could descend that would be a new heaven, a world of supramental light could be created here amidst the receding darkness of this terrestrial ignorance.”
* There is nothing like Piety or Sin.
* There is neither Heaven, nor Hell.
* There is no Rebirth.
* I am God incarnate (Soaham).
* Sects are only two: the male and the female.
* Food is Life itself.
* Death is the certain consequence of Life.