PART I ANCESTRY I GENEALOGY
It was on the 20th of December, 1850 A.D., or Poush Badi Pratipada (Lunar month) of 1907 b., when the moon was about to retire after a full night’s vigil and the Grand Solar Luminary of our planet was about to rise on the horizon, that our Most Worshipful Lord, Bhagwan Dev Atma – the future Luminary of the Soul World – was born at Akbarpur, a town in Kanpur District in the Uttar Pradesh of India. He comes from the Aryan stock of the ancient and illustrious Kanya Kubj Brahmans. In the Epic of the world-renowned poet and author, Balmiki – whom the European savants remember as the Homer of India – there is a legendary lore, recorded of how this class of Kanya Kubj Brahmans originated. It is said that “Brahma”, the traditional Hindu god of creation, had four grandsons. The second among them had one hundred daughters, all of whom were Kubji or Kubri, i.e., hunchbacked. All these girls were given in wedlock to a Maharshi named Brahma Dutt, who is said to have subsequently cured them of this defect by his healing touch. The place of residence of this Maharshi came consequently to be called Kanya Kubj, afterwards known as Kanauj. It is said that from the 72 Rishis of this part of the country, known as Kanya Kubj, descended the 72 sections of Gotras of Kanya Kubj Brahmans. Six among these 72 Gotras are reckoned as the highest in the scale of caste. From one of these six highest Gotras is descended the long line of Bhagwan Dev Atma’s ancestors. It is called Upmanu. This genealogy, shrouded though it is in the veil of traditional lore and half-truths, reveals at least the fact that the highest ancient authority recognized Bhagwan Dev Atma’s ancestry as great and glorious.
The ancestors of Bhagwan Dev Atma originally resided at Rewari, a town of the Uttar Pradesh in the District of Fatepur (Hasua). Rewari is situated at a distance of 2 or 3 miles from a station named Malwan on the East Indian Railway. This town was founded by one of the ancestors of Bhagwan Dev Atma by name Shriyut Rev, son of Shriman Janardhan. It was in Rewari that Shriyut Rev performed a grand and memorable ceremony, Agnihotra Yajna or sacrificial ritual. Since it was performed on an extraordinary scale, it earned him the distinguished honour or the title of Agnihotri. From that day onward the descendants of Shriyut Rev have been surnamed Agnihotri. The family originally bore the surname of Duivedis of Jairajmon and accepted Yajur Veda as their Chief Scripture and Dhanur Veda as their Up Veda.
But after some generations when the family grew in numbers and affluence, certain members moved to Doulatpur, where they owned large landed property. Several generations after Shriman Pandit Rev, was born Shriyut Pandit Mansaram. He had three sons named Shriyut Ganga Prasad, Sukhram and Bechulal. The eldest among them, Shriyut Pandit Ganga Prasad, was the great-grandfather of Bhagwan Dev Atma.
Shriyut Pandit Ganga Prasad was a man of uncommon mental powers and possessed vast energy for work, great statesmanship and perseverance. By dint of personal resourcefulness, hard work and genius, he made a mark in business, acquired name and fame, and rose to a post of high eminence and became Dewan or Minister of Raja Sarupsingh of Akori – a small state (now defunct) near Akbarpur. This new post necessitated his change of residence from Doulatpur to Akbarpur in the District of Kanpur. It was during his tenure of office as a Dewan that he purchased zamindari (ownership) of 25 villages and thus became a great landlord. These purchases were made by the Dewan Benami, i.e., formally in the name of some of his relations, a step which brought about complications after his demise.
The following is the list of the villages in which the Dewan Sahib owned large landed property:-
1. In the Tehsil of Bhognipur:- (1) Shahjahanpur (2) Shavapur (3) Jagdishpur (4) Moosa Nagar (5) Rasulpur (6) Dobha (7) Asuapur (8) Badhauli (9) Sthra Khurd (10) Dohrapur (11) Bijaipur (12) Hardua Hari (13) Mohtrapur (14) Asewa.
2. In the Tehsil of Akbarpur:- (15) Salavatpur (16) Badlapur (17) Serua (18) Alhaupr (19) Muktapur (20) Badhapur (21) Kurvan (22) Lahrapur (23) Gauriyapie.
3. In the Tehsil of Ghatampur:- (24) Gandatha (25) Amritepur.
Besides this vast landed property, the Dewan Sahib left behind a large fortune in cash also.