DR. ROCHALDAS SAHIB
(6 January, 1879 —10 December, 1957)
A Brief Life Sketch
In the galaxy of the Sufi luminaries in Sind, there arose a brilliant star by the name Sai Rochaldas Sahib. He was born on 6 January, 1879 in a middle class Mansharamani family at Rohri (Sind), Pakistan. Sai Rochaldas Sahib spent his early years in close association with the famous saints of the town where he closely observed and assimilated what is saintly living. As he grew up, and while he was a student at the Medical College, Hyderabad (Sind), his urge for a satguru brought him to Hazrat Sai Qutab Ali Shah, a Sufi sage of a very high order at Hyderabad (Sind), whom he accepted his preceptor (satguru). Thereafter, the life of Sai Rochaldas Sahib was an example of a perfect disciple representing total obedience to the precept of the satguru, absolute faith in his preceptor, supreme love for him, zeal and earnestness in his practice, steadfastness and firmness in endeavour, purity of mind and action, total absorption (fanai) in his satguru, the deity and the precept, culminating in the realisation of the Truth or the Self.
After passing out from the Medical College, Sai Rochaldas Sahib started as a government doctor in the erstwhile Government of Bombay Presidency. He was also posted at Aden (Yemen) which was then under Bombay Presidency. The separation from his preceptor was so unbearable to him that he abandoned all physical and material comforts so much so that he refused to use a cot and slept on the floor in the rocky terrain heavily infested with scorpions, being unmindful of daily scorpion-stings at night. He was made in-charge of the hospital of contiguous diseases. Plague and smallpox were in epidemic form there. He fully devoted himself to the service of the patients of the deadly diseases performing all sorts of jobs for them. In recognition of his devoted service, the Government decided to grant him the title of 'Rai Sahib' which he politely declined. He believed that what he did was service to God, done out of love.
Returning home in Sind, he worked as a medical officer in some government hospitals in fulfillment of his contract with the government. There he performed his duties very honestly and with total dedication. On expiry of the contract, he resigned from the post in the government, under the advice of his preceptor, Sai Qutab Ali Shah, and started charitable medical practice where he charged nothing either for visits or for consultation or for the drugs, and set an illustrious example of dedicated, selfless and anonymous service and exclusive dependence on God. To begin with, he followed the allopathic system in his charitable dispensaries, in which he had been trained, but soon changed over to homoeopathic system which he followed subsequently throughout his life. He never invited doles and donations either for himself or for the dispensaries. He left himself and his work entirely at the will of the Lord and successfully maintained that spirit throughout his life. He had fully surrendered himself to Him and depended exclusively on Him alone, and nothing else. He had annihilated his ego and had attained total merger in Him.
He laid special emphasis on love and devotion as a part of the spiritual pursuit. Love assumes renunciation and renunciation leads to detachment; and detachment is an essential prerequisite at all stages of spiritual pursuit—karma marg, bhakti marg and gyan marg. By love, he referred to Ishq Haqiqi.
As a householder, too, he was perfect in his dealings, respectful and obedient to his elders, loving and kind to his family, meticulous in the care and upbringing of the children, charitable and generous to all who approached him, friendly and forgiving to all. He treated his friends and foes alike, had love for all and hatred for none, and was always sweet in speech and cheerful, happy and contended. He had attained to the state of even-cognition in his daily life. He saw nothing but That in everything that existed.
Though he was a householder, the Master was so adept in yoga that many yogis and ascetics came to him to learn very advanced and difficult yogic practices. Yet, he made no display of his attainments. He believed in concealed and unostentatious life.
He was against the use of occult powers because he was convinced that use of occult powers was an impediment on the spiritual path. Though he was a master of the occult powers, he made no display of these powers.
After the partition of India in 1947, Doctor Sahib* too migrated with his family to India in early 1948 and settled down at Shanti Nagar, Ulhas Nagar, near Bombay. There he was given a very simple barrack in a discarded military camp built during the Second World War. The living conditions there were extremely poor. The difficulties and extreme discomforts in a refugee camp had no adverse effect on his life and the state of his mind. He was as cheerful as before. A charitable dispensary was immediately started and the satsang was conducted as usual. His presence there was a source of great solace and strength in those critical times to a vast multitude of refugees from Sind settled in the camp.
The Master considered silence, concentration, humility and service of great importance on the spiritual path. His own life was a living example of what he believed. He spoke very little. It was much later that he entered into informal conversation on spiritual matters in the satsang. Notes of his select dialogues between 1952 and 1957 were taken by some of his devotees and these have been published in Sindhi in six volumes including four volumes under the title Ke Saitoon Sajnan San. The essence of his teachings is that Self-realisation is the only purpose of human birth. The dialogues are highly instructive and very well explain all relevant matters in the spiritual realm and provide detailed and practical guidelines, with examples and illustrations. An English translation of Ke Saitoon Sajnan San has been published under the title Some Moments with The Master.
The Master stressed three prerequisites for a seeker, viz satsang (holy association), satshastra (holy books) and satguru (divine masters). About satsang, he said, "Satsang is a peerless royal fort. A jiva learns divine living when he participates in satsang. Divine souls come to satsang and coming into contact with them, the jiva acquires the spiritual hue. Seeing and hearing the sages, he develops eagerness for a guru. He also becomes eager to learn the technique by which he might be able to cut the rocks within himself and unearth the treasures lying under them." He distinguished between satsang and the gatherings where scriptures are merely recited or tales from epics narrated. According to him, the main characteristics of satsang are: first, there is discourse about Sat (the Truth, the Absolute) and secondly, the talk is given by a sage (evolved soul) or it is given in the presence of one who has realised the Truth.
Regarding the importance of satguru, the Master believed that salvation is not possible without a guru (preceptor). He said, "If on the path of devotion a seeker treats his satguru only as a saint or a preceptor, it must be assumed that he has yet to commence his journey. But when he treats his guru as God, he is said to have begun his journey. To a seeker, his guru is everything, and glorification of the guru to any extent is inadequate. This must be the attitude of a seeker; only this is helpful, but up to a certain point, as long as he is on the path of devotion, and not thereafter."
The Master stressed that a seeker must fully surrender himself to his satguru. The implication of surrender is to accept the guru as all-in-all and one's own self as nothing. Surrender means loss of one's ego or individual identity. A seeker must fully abide by the precept of the satguru and faithfully practise the gurushabd, with full concentration and in its true spirit.
The Master very much valued the conduct and mode of living of a seeker. He believed that saintliness means living and not guise or giving sermons. A person might be a great scholar, a pundit, or an erudite, but he deserves no credit if he is wanting in the right living style and mode of conduct.
The Master left his mortal frame on 10 December, 1957. After his passing away, his eldest son, Dr R.M. Hari, a saint of very high order, was consecrated to the spiritual seat. A simple samadhi of the Master has been set up at Barrack No. 1194, Shanti Nagar, Ulhas Nagar-3, where he lived.
A few years before his passing away, the Master made a unique revelation which, in Sindhi, he called Barani Boli or the Child's Language. He would analyse each word into its letters, give latent spiritual meaning for every letter and find out the spiritual context of every word. He believed that every word and every letter represented divinity.
He had the faith of Oneness or non-duality. Once, a disciple said to him, "Sir, we have been told that if a disciple does not practise after obtaining the precept from his satguru, the satguru has to answer on behalf of the disciple in the Court of the Lord. Will you have to answer for our failures?" In reply, the Master said, "God can demand an answer only if He sees anything besides Himself." This was one of the evidences he gave of his having attained to the state of Oneness or non-duality which the Sufis call the state of baqa-ba-Allah and the Vedantists call the state of turiya-atit.
Sai Hadi Baksh, a very high-ranking saint and spiritual successor to Hazrat Sai Qutab Ali Shah, was a contemporary of Doctor Sahib. He lived at Hyderabad (Sind). Once when a disciple asked Sai Hadi Baksh to tell him an example of someone who had attained perfection on both sides—spiritual and mundane—Sai Hadi Baksh gave him the example of King Janaka. When the disciple said that these were stories from hoary past only, Sai Hadi Baksh then gave him the example of Sai (Dr) Rochaldas Sahib. As a proof of what he said, Sai Hadi Baksh asked the disciple to note the time at that moment and then said that at that time Doctor Sahib was sitting in meditation at the cremation ground in Rohri. He further said that if this were true then what he said of Doctor Sahib was also true. The disciple was asked to write a letter to Doctor Sahib at Rohri and verify with him the fact of his being in meditation at the cremation ground at that time. A letter was accordingly sent. The reply received said that at that time Doctor Sahib had gone to the cremation ground to attend a funeral and had spent some time there in meditation.
Sai Rochaldas Sahib valued the scripture Sri Yoga Vasishtha very much. Reading from Sri Yoga Vasishtha was a regular feature in the satsang in his presence. It was under his inspiration that his son and spiritual successor, Dr R.M. Hari, undertook the task of abridging this scripture and presented it in a simple style in Sindhi in the form of questions and answers.
*Because he was a qualified medical practitioner, the Master was generally called Doctor Sahib.