In a northern town in the pristine hills,
He helped a lakh or more.
Bent spines were straightened,
The sick were healed
Of ailments that had no cure.
Kathog is a thinly populated town situated in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. The famous temples of the five goddesses of Himachal–Jwalamukhi, Naina Devi, Chintapurni, Chamunda Devi, and Brajeshwari Devi–are located nearby.
In 1976, Gurudev and his soil survey team set up camp at Kathog. A teacher’s dorm opposite a school was their lodging during the stay. In May of that same year, Gurudev decided to start seva there. He instructed a few of his Delhi-based disciples to join him. To everyone’s surprise in the first few days of seva thousands arrived from nearby areas to seek Gurudev’s help, healing, and blessings.
A tantrik named Thapa who lived in a little shack across the road from the dorm watched the goings-on with caution and disbelief. He was convinced the man impressing the people of Kathog by showing them an Om and Trishul on his palm was a mere illusionist.
One night, Thapa decided it was time to call this ‘illusionist’s’ bluff. He sent a powerful spirit under his control to put the fear of God in Gurudev. Then Thapa waited for the spirit to return. As seconds turned to minutes and minutes into hours, he grew anxious. When dawn broke, he went to the dorm to make sense of what might have happened. As he peeked in through a door that was slightly ajar, Gurudev asked him to come inside. When Thapa walked in cautiously, Gurudev laughed and said, “You need to stop taking these silly tests!” In that instant, Thapa knew that Gurudev was no illusionist. He sought Gurudev’s forgiveness, replacing doubt with devotion.
It was Thapa who first mentioned Gurudev to Suresh Kohli, a teacher who taught at the school opposite the dorm. Suresh ji dismissed Thapa’s words, certain it was the alcohol that Thapa was routinely under the influence of, talking. However, curiosity got the better of him, and he set out to meet the man whose miracles had set the little town of Kathog abuzz.
Gurudev welcomed him warmly and served him tea. In the ensuing conversation, Suresh ji asked Gurudev if he could facilitate his meeting with the supreme power. Gurudev instructed him to meditate at night with a glass of water by his side. Suresh ji recalled that as he sat in meditation, he saw a vision of Gurudev appear in his home temple. The vision appeared for seven consecutive nights. However, on the eighth night, nothing happened. When Suresh ji returned to the campsite the next morning, Gurudev welcomed him with the words, “Hun mennu ess tarah vakhiya Masterji, te samajhna rab nu paa lita! (If you see a vision of me again, you would have met the power supreme!)” Suresh ji realised that Gurudev was no ordinary saint and prostrated at his feet.
As the crowd at Kathog swelled, Gurudev started seva at the school premises to accommodate the large number of people who showed up. When he needed more hands-on-deck, he initiated several teachers from the same school, like Suresh ji, Shambu ji, and Santosh ji into the seva of healing by making them drink the jal he had sipped. Men with no practical knowledge of spiritualism became spiritual healers over the next few days.
Gurudev performed some extraordinary spiritual feats at Kathog. He would sprinkle jal on large gatherings, healing the sick instantly. One day, he placed his hands on the back and torso of a man with a bent spine, straightening it in a matter of minutes.
Gurudev healing a man with a bent spine at Kathog
Raji Sharma ji, a disciple, described Kathog as a lift-off point in Gurudev’s ascent to the spiritual stratosphere. It is believed that Gurudev helped and healed close to a lakh or more people in this little town, earning him the title of ‘Om wale Baba’ or ‘The Saint with the Om on his palm’.