Param Pujya Sant Shree Hirjibapa
Pujya Hirji Bapa, hailed from Gujarat and was a very simple and humble Sant (Saint) who is best known for planting the seeds of Hinduism in East Africa almost a century ago. Pujya Bapa preached about humanity and did not discriminate on grounds of cast, colour or creed.
‘Lalbhai ’ or Hirji Ghela Gokani was born in 1889 in a small village near Dwarka, India. He was the elder of two children born to Ghelabhai and Motima and was brought up in a religious Lohana family where reading the Ramayana was a daily ritual. After his father passed away, Pujya Bapa worked as a teacher for some twelve years to support his mother and sister, before embarking on a historic journey setting foot on the soil of East Africa, aged only twenty five.
Pujya Bapa felt it was his mission to awaken the religious spirit of fellow Hindus living in this new land and he became instrumental in the growth of cultural and religious activity in the region over the next sixty years. In this time he set up over forty bhajan mandals across East Africa, established the Ram Mandir in Nakuru, Kenya and inspired thousands of devotes to follow the path of devotion and selfless service. Many of Pujya Bapa’s devotees such as Pujya Shri Rambapa, Pujya Masribhai Pankania, Pragjibhai Ladwa and Dhamjibhai Pattni went on to establish their own satsang mandals which continue to serve to this day. Pujya Bapa’s messages were conveyed in bhajans and satsang, he would repeatedly chant HARI NO CHHO, HARI NO THAA, HARI NE GAA, HARI NE VAA (you are a child of God, become His, sing His glories, spread His gospel). Pujya Hirji Bapa was indeed a special ‘Aatma’ and even today, Bapa’s presence is felt around us, though he left his body more than forty years ago (7th January 1976), his spirit lives on in the hearts of his devotees.
Pujya Shri Rambapa
Revered across the World, we are fortunate to have resident in our midst, a dynamic and divine personality affectionately known as Pujya Shri Rambapa. At one hundred and two, he continues to radiate tremendous energy, filling people’s hearts with love due to his generous nature, compassion and tireless enthusiasm for God realisation. Upon meeting him one experiences the confluence of devotion, wisdom and humility, bringing about a sense of peace to even the most troubled of hearts.
Maganlal Vallabhdas Bhimjiyani, was born in Gujarat, India on 28th May 1920 in a village called Jeera. At the age of seven he felt a deep desire to live for a higher purpose, skipping school to go and sit in the local Hanuman mandir and devoting his time to studying the ancient Hindu text the Ramayana and in the service of the underprivileged and visiting Saints and Sages. From this young age he felt a profound and mystical connection with Lord Hanumanji and set about learning everything about Hanumanji’s life, living for His ideals - humility, selfless service, discipline and being the perfect devotee of the Lord.
In 1930 he moved to Uganda where he met his Sat Guru, Pujya Shree Hirjibapa and he spent the next 40 years serving him in East Africa. Through Pujya Hirjibapa’s grace and guidance, Rambaba realised the true purpose of his life – to selflessly serve humanity through total surrender to Lord Hanumanji. While in Uganda, Rambaba intimately learned every verse of the Ramayana and wholeheartedly committed himself to many service projects including the construction of the Sanatan Hindu Temple in Kampala which remains today as a landmark of the town and still holds Hanuman Chalisa Yagnas weekly.
In 1970, anticipating violence from Idi Amin’s government, Pujya Rambapa moved to London with his family. He established Shri Jignyasu Satsang Seva Trust to lay the foundation for the practice of Hinduism in this country. This was achieved through organising regular readings and discourses from the Ramayan, hosting of acclaimed ‘kathakars’ from India such as Pujya Morari Bapu, Uma Bhartiji and Indu Bhusanji and organising regular recitations of the Hanuman Chalisa 108 times and an extensive murti (deity) donation programme to many temples and households across the country. Scores of community and faith based organisations in the UK have benefited from Pujya Rambapa’s guidance, grace and financial support over the past fifty years and the number of life size deities donated by his trust amount to several thousand.
Pujya Rambapa’s service work overseas has been significant also, he has personally attended seventeen “Kumbh Mela” and “Magmas Mela” pilgrimages across India, where his trust “Maruti Rambapa Seva Trust” has established and run free food and medical camps, serving close to ten thousand poor and needy pilgrims and sadhus each day, often for weeks at a time. The deity donation programme has also spread internationally and temples have now been established in Surinaam, Guyana, Barbados, Ghana, Kenya, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Canada and the United States.
Pujya Rambapa’s message is a simple one and is just as poignant today as it was forty years ago when he first arrived in the UK. Chant the Lord’s name with full faith and devotion, surrender your actions unto Him and serve the poor and the needy in the name of God.