Each lineage of wisdom has a succession of those individuals who are tasked with passing the wisdom. These same people are also responsible for the evolution of the path. Sometimes this means taking things in a new direction and sometimes this means buckling down and securing the wisdom against changes. When I was a teen I went to a church that, in one particular hallway has portraits hanging of each of the church’s pastors, in order of succession, going back to the founding and building. In Hinduism and other eastern traditions, this traceable line of gurus might lead backwards in time to a major historical figure or perhaps even a mythological figure. To go back to the example of the church from my youth, it would be like the hall of pastors having portraits of each pastor, in successive order, going back to (and including) figures like Martin Luther and Jesus of Nazareth.
In the lineage of my path, we focus on the modern-most four gurus. We do trace back to sage Patanjali (from around 400 C.E.), but our most recent four gurus only date as far back as the century before last. Starting with the earliest of these four one encounters Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur. He was known as Lalaji. I’m not sure I know why he was called Lalaji. After him came Shri Ram Chandra of Fateghar, who was known as Babuji. I think, and I might be wrong, he was called Babuji because of the name of his professional employment (Babu means something like “Clerk” in his mother language). After Babuji, there came Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari. We called him Chariji, and I think it seems obvious that this affectionate name came from the tail end of his last name. Chariji dropped his body in December of 2014 and his successor, which was announced a good while before Chariji’s passing, is Kamlesh D. Patel.
Kamlesh, almost from the very beginning of his time as our spiritual leader, discouraged us from calling him “Master” as the ones before him were often called. (To be very clear: This usage of the word master is in reference not to dominion over devotees, but rather to dominion over his own self.) Practically immediately, Kamlesh simultaneously discouraged us from calling him Master while still giving space for abhyasis whose minds needed that, to do that. For a period of time, up until quite recently, there seemed to be a middle ground reached in regard to how he was called by us. Normally, one would hear Kamleshji or Kamlesh-bhai … either understood as expressions of affection as well as respect, and still recognizing that he came from where we currently stand. The feeling of these is one of kinship or relation and although the one does end in the same -ji as the earlier gurus (Lalaji, Babuji, Chariji), Kamleshji or Kamlesh-bhai both feel more cumbersome than the names we used with the earlier gurus.
Very recently, however, it would appear as though a new choice is on the table for Kamlesh-bhai. That new appellation is Daaji. To be quite honest, I’m not sure when this came about – though I did learn tonight at meditation that it’s a name he’s used for quite a while already and which children apparently started. I receive lots of emails from a number of Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness sources and I don’t recall reading anything official about a name change – maybe I missed it somewhere in the mix.
Immediately, given what experience I have with Indian languages, I thought it sounded like an affectionate form of calling someone “grandfather.” In researching this a little, I found that in Gujurati, Hindi, and Punjabi the word for grandfather is “daadaa.” (pronounced daah-daah) Kamlesh was born in Gujurat, India – so it could make sense that “daaji” is a combination of daadaa and the suffix -ji, which we use to express deep respect. However, tonight at meditation I also learned that daaji is a term of respect and endearment for the younger brother of one’s father. In a way this feels like a nod to Chariji.
I think Daaji is a wonderful next step in how we’re calling our guruji. It flows easily within the mouth. It’s simple, like nature (See our Maxims). And it seems more in line with names used by the earlier gurus. And so we have it – Daaji. You can learn more from him by clicking here.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti