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Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj - A Short Biography

The Supreme Spiritual Master of the world, the Descension of Divine Love, the undisputed authority of Vedic religion and the reconciler of all spiritual doctrines, Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj truly is the personified form of divine love.

His natural scholarliness inspires trust in even the greatest intellectuals, while his tremendous love, causeless grace and endless compassion melts the hearts and inspires devotional love in all who come near him. His satsang is divinely exhilarating and unbelievably joyous.

Every association with him is like being in the company of your dearest friend who is urging you every moment, both from within and without, to go closer and closer and closer to God…

Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj (lovingly addressed as Shri Maharaj Ji by all) appeared on this earth in October 1922 on the auspicious full moon night of Sharat Purnima in Mangarh, a tiny village in Northern India. His mother Bhagvati Devi and father Shri Lalita Prasad Tripathi named their child Ram Kripalu. From childhood he showed signs of divinity and was a most precocious student. According to the custom of the times, his parents got him married to the daughter of a learned scholar hailing from the nearby village of Leelapur in 1933. Despite being married, Shri Maharaj Ji often left home for long intervals.
At the tender age of thirteen, he left his village Mangarh to study, attending Peeli Kothi Sanskrit School in Chitrakoot in 1935, where he sat intermediate Sanskrit Grammar examinations. He completed his degree in Sanskrit Grammer, Vyakaranacharya, in Kashi the following year in 1936.

In 1937 Shri Maharaj Ji went to Indore (Mohu) where he sat the intermediate examinations for Ayurved at Ashtang Ayurvedic College. In 1942, Shri Maharaj Ji returned to Indore and completed a poetry examination and received the degree Kayatirtha. In 1943, Shri Maharaj Ji received the degree of Ayurved Acharya from Delhi Vidyapeeth and Sahitya Acharya (Master of Literature) from Calcutta Vidyapeeth in 1944. Both these degrees were awarded to him in Indore. Due to his exceptional ability, Shri Maharaj Ji completed the equivalent of many years of study in Indore in just 2 ½ years. The most remarkable aspect of his recitation is that he never studied scripture. In addition, all this study was taking place while he was giving a constant stream of four day, fifteen day, one month and even four month akhanda (non-stop) sankirtan programmes.
 In the Jungles of Sharbhang
In 1938, at the age of sixteen, Shri Maharaj Ji retreated into the dense forests near Sharbhang Ashram in Chitrakoot and then to the forests near Vanshivat, Vrindavan. During this period, he remained deeply engrossed in the intense divine love of Shri Radha Krishna. Whosoever saw him in this state of trance was astonished and felt that he was an embodiment of love and bliss. Nobody would have thought that within him lay an unfathomable and immeasurably vast ocean of knowledge and wisdom.

Completely immersed in the ecstatic bliss of divine love, he would forget to pay attention to his own physical state and to the world around him, remaining unconscious for hours on end. Sometimes he would burst into unrestrained laughter or sometimes break into a roaring cry. Being unmindful, he would often go without food and water for days. Tears flowed freely from his eyes. While he wandered the forests in this state of trance, sometimes his clothing would become caught in thorny bushes and sometimes he would trip over a rock and fall. After approximately two years of moving about in this state, Shri Maharaj Ji was eventually discovered, and for the benefit of those people, he agreed to go with them. Thus began his need to conceal and control the bliss of divine love he was experiencing in order to propagate the bhakti of Shri Krishna to the people of the world.
 Chitrakoot Conference
A grand conference of Saints took place over fifteen days from 16-31 October 1955, organised by Shri Maharaj Ji himself. The event was attended by approximately seventy two scholars and spiritual personalities from across India, including Mahamahopadhyay Giridhar Sharma (President of Kashi Vidvat Parishat) and Neel Meghacharya. Shri Maharaj Ji was the official welcoming committee, serving the Saintly scholars himself, even escorting them to their assigned rooms and fanning them. Who can serve anyone the way Shri Maharaj Ji served those Saints!

In his welcoming address Shri Maharaj Ji made a request to all the Saints to answer a few simple questions concerning the reconciliation of the apparent contradictory doctrines in Hindu scripture. None of the scholars present replied. In fact, all of them became annoyed and announced that Shri Maharaj Ji himself should speak, though his name was not listed as such. Hearing his name being called, Shri Maharaj Ji all of a sudden took the stage as a speaker. This was the first time he had spoken publically; no one had ever seen him speak before this. For the duration of the Conference, Shri Maharaj Ji addressed the gathering for three hours every day.

The knowledge Shri Maharaj Ji revealed to the assembly was unbelievable! He gave thousands of quotations from the Vedas, Gita, Bhagavatam and from many other scriptures. People were astonished and spellbound at his profound and complete mastery of all the scriptures. The devotees who knew him before were amazed, as prior to this they had only seen him singing the glories of Lord Krishna, playing the dholak and shedding tears.

When Mahamahopadhyay Giridhar Sharma and Neel Meghacharya returned to Kashi, they highly praised Shri Maharaj Ji, but the other scholars could not believe that someone so young could have such knowledge. In fact, they interpreted such talk as mere exaggeration and decided that they should test Shri Maharaj Ji.

 Kanpur Conference
The following year, Shri Maharaj Ji organised another conference, this time for the scholars of Kanpur. This event took place from 5-19 October 1956.

The Chief Secretary of Kashi Vidvat Parishad, Shri Raj Narayan Shastri (a master in the six systems of philosophy and the most learned scholar amongst the 500 that constituted Kashi Vidvat Paishad) attended the Conference without notice, at the instigation of Mahamahopadhyay Giridhar Sharma and Neel Meghacharya.

When Shri Mahraj Ji saw such a distinguished guest, he invited him to speak but he declined, requesting Shri Maharaj Ji to speak first and saying that he would speak later. With a pen and paper in his hand, he sat down with the intention to note down all the mistakes Shri Maharaj Ji was going to make in his discourse. To his amazement, his pen never moved!

The following day, Shri Raj Narayan Shastri announced that he would speak first, so Shri Maharaj Ji took his seat with pen in hand to note down his mistakes. However, Shri Maharaj Ji’s pen never moved either! Shri Raj Narayan Shastri gave no discourse; he just showered praise on Shri Maharaj Ji including,

"…while referring to all the Philosophical Schools, the unique way in which he established the path of devotion was transcendental, definitely divinely inspired. Such a speech could only be inspired by God Himself. No one can display such talent or knowledge of his own accord…"

In the end, Shri Maharaj Ji was invited to address the scholars of Kashi Vidvat Parishat, which he did the following year.

 A Landmark Event in the History of the World
At the age of 34, Shri Maharaj Ji gave a series of lectures over ten days to the 500 scholars of Kashi Vidvat Parishat. Shri Maharaj Ji spoke in classical Sanskrit, giving innumerable quotations from the Vedas, Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana etc. He presented a unique reconciliation of the varying philosophies of the four previous Jagadgurus, Spiritual Masters of the world; Adi Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya, Jagadguru Shri Ramanujacharya, Jagadguru Shri Nimbarkacharya and Jagadguru Shri Madhavcharya.
 The Fifth Jagadguru in the History of the World
Shri Maharaj Ji was thus honoured with the title of Jagadguru by Kashi Vidvat Parishat, the distinguished and exclusive organisation of 500 Vedic scholars, in the holy city of Kashi, on 14 January 1957. This title of Jagadguru was last granted more than 700 years ago. This prestigious title is only awarded to a divine personality who possesses complete theoretical knowledge of all scriptures as well as a practical experience of God, and who brings about a spiritual revolution in the world.
 Jagadguruttam, Supreme Amongst All Jagadgurus
Upon listening to Shri Maharaj Ji’s unique and authoritative knowledge of all scriptures, along with his astonishing reconciliation of the philosophies of the four previous Jagadgurus, the scholars of Kashi Vidvat Parishat were left with no option but to accept Shri Maharaj Ji as Jagadguruttam, supreme amongst all Jagadgurus.
 Bhaktiyogarasavatar, the Supreme Descension of Divine Love.
So impressed were they by his divine presence, and seeing the nectar of divine love permeating his being, they also honoured him with the title of Bhaktiyogarasavatar, the supreme descension of divine love and bliss.
 Nikhildarshan-Samanvayacharya, Reconciler of all the Scriptures
Shri Maharaj Ji not only accepted but proved to be true all the existing philosophies of all the four previous, original Jagadgurus. To the utter amazement of those 500 scholars, in many cases each one being a master of a single scripture, he also miraculously reconciled their seeming contradictions! He proved the significance, importance and supremacy of bhakti, devotion as being the essence of all Hindu scriptures, and the easiest and simplest path to God, and that it is, in fact, the only path for this current age.
 Devotional Literature
Shri Maharaj Ji has composed thousands of bhajans and kirtans that evoke extremely devotional sentiments within the heart. Many years ago He composed 1008 padas, devotional songs collectively known as the scripture Prema Rasa Madira - The Intoxicating Bliss of Divine Love that has been highly praised by well-known poets of India.

Prema Rasa Siddhanta, Philosophy of Divine Love divided into sixteen chapters, explains the ultimate aim of the individual soul, and sheds light on the importance of attaining divine grace and the indispensability of surrendering to a Saint. Shri Maharaj Ji takes the confusion out of Hindu scripture and gives lucid explanations of the Vedas, Puranas, Gita, Ramayana and other texts. Each chapter leads to the next and all are arranged in a logical sequence, taking the reader from the theoretical aspects of spirituality to practical aspects of devotion.

The wide variety of books that are available not only explain the philosophy of the Vedas and Vedic scriptures in a very simple, practical and logical manner but also compliment the devotees' daily spiritual pursuit by providing them with beautiful couplets, bhajans and kirtans that reinforce the philosophy. Even though Shri Maharaj Ji has authored all his work in Hindi, a select collection of his work has been translated into other languages like English, Oriya, Telugu, Gujarati etc.

 An Inspirational Life
Even at the advanced age of 90, Shri Maharaj Ji still strictly adheres to His daily routine, encouraging all of us to be disciplined in life and place equal importance on looking after both our body and mind. His day starts shortly after 12.30am, when during his morning walk, he can be heard calling out the sweet name of Radhe, reminding all to remember their Beloved Radhe with every breath, be they awake or asleep. Before completing his walk, he composes some new devotional poetry, sometimes philosophical and other times descriptive of the glories and pastimes of Shri Radha Krishna, thus encouraging us to start our day in the loving remembrance of our Beloved Radha Krishna.

When delivering enlightening discourses such as the ones given by Shri Krishna (Gita) and Shukdeva Paramahanas (Bhagavatam), Shri Maharaj Ji recites the most difficult Sanskrit verses from the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Gita and other scriptures eloquently and explains them in a lucid manner that leaves both the scholar and the layperson spellbound.

He has trained more than fifty pacharaks, monastic disciples, both male and female, who travel the world spreading the most authentic divine wisdom contained in our scriptures. Together with his televised discourses that started in the year 2000, his teachings have now spread all over the world and yet, he still continues to personally travel extensively, mostly throughout India, to meet people face to face.

 Friend of the Destitute
As humble as he is great, Shri Maharaj Ji continues to make himself accessible to all sincere spiritual aspirants, irrespective of culture, age or spiritual persuasion. Every seeker is amazed to see how approachable he is, and enjoys the special privilege of individual attention from him. His tall, stately and regal stature, combined with a childlike personality creates an indefinable attraction that draws all to him, be they young, old, man or woman. It is very easy to become a recipient because there is no giver like Shri Maharaj Ji. True to his name ‘Kripalu’, he is the very ocean of grace.
 Charitable Activities
The spiritual work undertaken by Shri Maharaj Ji is certainly his greatest contribution to society. However, his philosophy concentrates on creating a balance in life by taking care of the body as well as the soul. Recognising the need to take care of the physical body, Shri Maharaj Ji inspires devotees to engage in various humanitarian activities. Thus, under the divine guidance of Shri Maharaj Ji, Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat (JKP) has been established.

Charitable institutions that serve the poor and needy are fully operational. Hospitals built by JKP in various towns and villages are maintained by devotees and provide free healthcare services to all.

When Shri Maharaj Ji visits one such institution his mere presence acts as a panacea, bringing both joy on the faces and serenity in the hearts of, all those being served. As he walks through the corridors, greeting all as he passes by, he will pause for a moment and go into one of the rooms where some patients are resting. Placing a caring hand on the shoulder of one, he will enquire into their medical condition; ask another how he is feeling and whether he needs anything more to be comfortable, all the while casting his soothing, beatific smile on all. After his visit, the spirits of all those in recovery is boosted beyond words.

Shri Maharaj Ji has ensured, through the work of JKP, that much needed assistance is given to those people in our community who are physically disadvantaged, be it due to disability or simply the natural process of aging. Much needed day-to-day necessities are distributed on mass to some of our country’s poorest – blankets, dining utensils, food, medicine, financial aid etc. – little things that make a big difference by making life a little easier in some of the poorer parts of India. In times of tragedy, JKP is a generous donor of financial assistance. In responding to the needs of young people to have access to quality education in rural areas, JKP has established educational institutions, where socially disadvantaged families can send their children, free of cost.

Since 1968, when the first satsang hall was built in the small rural village of Mangarh, the birthplace of Shri Maharaj Ji, satsang halls have been established throughout India, providing venues for sincere spiritual aspirants to retreat from their worldly commitments and focus their minds on the sweet loving remembrance of Shri Radha Krishna, twenty-four hours a day. Today these ashrams have expanded to cater for the growing number of people coming to learn about and practice bhaktiyoga, under the supreme guidance of Shri Maharaj Ji, from around the world.

Throughout the year, special programmes (i.e. Holi, Ram Navami, Janmashtami, Radhastami etc.) are held at these ashrams attended by many thousands of people. The most famous of them all is Shri Maharaj Ji’s month-long sadhana programme that commences on the full moon night of October in Bhakti Dham, Mangarh and goes for an entire month. Shri Maharaj Ji has been giving this programme to the world since 1964, first at Brahmand Ghat, then Agra in 1965 and in Mangarh since 1966.

In this age where people are judged by material success, the human soul yearning for peace and fulfillment finds soothing solace in Shri Maharaj Ji, who shines with divinity. He shatters all doubts of spiritual confusion with great ease and effectively reveals a clear and practical path leading to God.

He is, in the true sense of the word, a Jagadguru, the Guru of the entire world.
A Glorious Proclamation Precious
Related Books
Guru Purnima 2010 The quarterly magazine about the activities of JKP.
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Bhagavat-tattva The explanation of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj's titles.
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