Where criminal godman like Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan have brought disrepute to the exalted position of Guru, here is a story of another godman whose piety is remembered and worshiped daily by his followers even 47 years after he died.
Gava village in Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh is famous as Hari Baba’s abode. A grand temple has been built by his followers where devotees from around the country come to seek blessings and offer prayers. But what makes this temple special is that kirtan is held everyday without any break. Yes – this temple holds kirtan 24 hours a day, round the year. As many as 36 villages alternately take it upon themselves to host the grand kirtan in the memory of Hari Baba.
But who is Hari Baba?
The followers of Hari Baba believe that he had saved the villagers of Sambhal and many other adjoining villages from a terrifying flood by building a 34 km-long embankment along the river Ganges from Gajraula to Sambhal. Such selfless work turned Hari Baba into a revered figure. Not just villagers but devotees from Punjab and Delhi, along with numerous foreigners, do come to offer prayers at this temple.
The story goes that it was in 1917 that Hari Baba reached Gava village. Located on the border of Amroha-Bulandshahr border, monsoons back in those days used wreck havoc when the Ganga river would unleash violent floods every year. Witnessing the plight of the people for some years, the baba asked his devotees and followers to help him create an embankment along the river. This was in the year 1922. Many heeded the call and came forward to help baba in his venture – while the wealthy people donated money, the poor from the nearby villages pitched in with contributing physical labour. It took only one year and a half for the entire embankment to be constructed. A hut was also built alongside the embankment for Hari Baba.
It was as a celebratory gesture that Hari Baba had organized a 24 hr-long satsang-kirtan at his abode within a year the embankment was built. Thereafter, the frequency of satsang-kirtan increased – from a day-long to a week-long to a month-long event.
On 2 January, 1970, Hari Baba breathed his last at Varanasi. To commemorate the great soul, villagers of Gava and 36 other adjoining villagers took it upon themselves to transform Hari Baba’s humble hut into a grand temple that has become popularly known as Baba Harihar Bandh Dham.
Since the construction of the temple, holding of kirtan has been a continuous event as an undying tribute and gesture of deep respect and love for the saint.