A MAN. A MENTOR. A MAHAGURU.
He came on earth to help and heal
and change the ethos of generations.
He willed ordinary men into mighty saints;
the forebearer of spiritual transformations.
A famous Scottish-American philanthropist once said that men who succeed are those who choose one line and stick to it. Spirituality was Gurudev’s chosen line, and he went the whole nine yards. Along this taxing path, seva became the cashmere with which he knit his goals.
He told us that it took him nearly 500 years to gather his disciples so that they could concurrently advance and assist in the upliftment of others. A collective evolution model set against the backdrop of backbreaking hard work and acute circumstantial difficulties singled out Gurudev as a spiritual marksman in the same league as the great prophets who descended on earth to improve the state of the world and inject spirituality into the masses.
In the early 1970s, during a market visit with him, his elder daughter, Renu, asked for two glasses of milk from a shop selling sweetmeats. She drank the milk with such delight that her father asked his wife if milk was in short supply at their home. Mataji’s reply that there was never enough money to buy the kids’ dietary essentials stunned him. He hardly slept a wink that night, tossing and turning, churning the thought – had he made the right decision in pursuing spirituality at the expense of his family’s material comfort? However, the following day, he was more determined than ever before, and service before self became the backbone of his spiritual enterprise.
His job paid him very little, and he usually spent a large portion of his earnings in public service on salary day itself! Aware of his generous ways, his colleague-turned-devotee, Nagpal ji, started saving a portion of Gurudev’s salary for Mataji’s household expenses, including looking after her children and the growing brigade of disciples who lounged at her home for weeks and months. Despite his meagre earnings, the mahaguru did not accept anything from anyone. So, let aside surplus funds; even adequate funds were in short supply! Often, the end of the month and his earnings in the bank hardly met!
By opening sthans in the homes of his disciples, he managed to tie two strings to a bow. He ensured that seva ensued despite the handicap of financial shortage, while at the same time, its reach expanded to several parts of India and abroad. The disciples who became sthan sanchalaks (heads) dedicated a room in their homes as sthans and funded the seva with their earnings. Money was needed to buy saffron, cloves, cardamoms, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and areca nuts. These were the carriers of his healing powers, given to those who came to seek his intervention on Bada Guruvar. Those sanchalaks who could not afford these items asked the visitors to purchase them elsewhere but have them blessed at the sthan.
If a sthan sanchalak was averagely well-off financially, he could offer tea and khichdi to the visitors on Bada Guruvar. If he could only afford tea, then just that could be served. If a sthan sanchalak was deserving of a home-sthan but monetarily impaired, Gurudev formed a coalition of two or three disciples to help him run the sthan collaboratively. By opening sthans, he distributed his powers to many disciples, multiplied his seva manifold, and took seva to the people rather than the other way around. With this master model, he reaped high spiritual returns on low financial investments. The enormity of the return on investment in terms of goodwill and people’s blessings could stump any banker!
On a meagre monthly salary, the mahaguru managed his seva at the Gurgaon sthan. He allowed his disciples to contribute to the food arrangements for the visitors and thus presented them with another opportunity to serve and earn its benefit. However, he made a point of personally contributing a percentage of the expenses to ensure that he remained debt and obligation-free.
Gurudev’s concept of time while at work in his Curzon Road office was segmented. Lunchtime was mostly reserved for meeting visitors from nearby areas at his sister’s house, a block away from the office. During regular work hours, he took short breaks to meet the syndicate of devotees and disciples waiting for him at Gupta ji’s tea and juice stall. But after office hours, he was like a man on the run, escaping the large crowds of followers gathered at several of his office gates, speeding out of the public spotlight on his Bajaj Chetak scooter.
Gurudev speeds out of public glare on his Bajaj Chetak scooter
Besides being adept at hide-n-seek, the mahaguru also played cards and chess with his colleagues on days when the workload was light. Even outside work, he was very time conscious, preferring to begin any new task in the first or second quarter of the hour, never in the fourth. He extended the concept of time specificity to mantra recitation. Some disciples were asked to recite their mantras at specific times. He recommended utilising the guru-paher, or the time-band between 1.15 am and 3.30 am, to undertake tasks requiring higher spiritual efficacy.
Gurudev would go to bed around 1.30 am, do his paath for an hour or two, and then catch a few winks. He would wake up between 5 am and 6 am and begin his day with a cup of tea. On some days, he would go into paath for hours. During his paath, he would travel astrally. Mataji once told me, “I felt he had gained mastery over sleep because he hardly slept. When he did sleep, it was because he wished to and not because sleep had overcome him. He would tell me that he would go about his work while the world slept. His words were, ‘No one will ever know where I go. But I watch over people and guide them.'”
“Vidhi ke vidhaan ko koi badal nahi sakta, par mein samay ka pabandh nahin, samay mera pabandh hai”, he was often heard saying. This translates to “Whatever is destined to happen cannot be avoided. But I am not bound by time. Time is bound by me”. He most likely meant that he could travel into the past and the future. He could also provide the fruit of the future in the present. In some cases, he could transfer a few years from a person’s next life to their current one. When Chandramani Vashisht ji knew that his death was on the anvil, he requested Gurudev for his wristwatch. When the mahaguru acceded to his request and sent him his watch as a gift, Vashisht ji knew his life had been extended.
The entrepreneur in Gurudev understood the opportunity cost of time. For him, his home in Gurgaon, office in Delhi, camps in remote parts of India and astral destinations were merely operable zones for acts of dispassionate kindness. And for the more fortunate few, these were also the sites where he mentored them.
Speed was Gurudev’s hallmark, be it his brisk walking pace or the swiftness with which he shared his powers with his recruits. Seeing large queues at a school in Kathog where seva was in progress, the mahaguru empowered three schoolteachers by asking them to drink his sipped water. It was their first few meetings with him, and they knew very little of him, let alone his seva. Among them, Santosh ji, a bodybuilder and PT instructor, was surprised when the jal miraculously transformed him into a healer who could cure people purely by touching the affected part of their body. The spiritual powerhouse recruited many people on the spur of the moment.
While he scored some prospective candidates on patience and loyalty by making them wait in queues for several days before meeting them, he greeted many other disciples-to-be with his famous line, “Aageya putt”. These welcoming words were strange to many of us since we saw ourselves as first-time visitors while he addressed us from a continuity standpoint. How could we have known that he recognised us from our previous lives?
We were a band of boys from varied walks of life with diverse skillsets and competencies, and different wallet sizes. Some more arrogant than others, while some humbler than most. Even though we probably ducked in our self-esteem, the mahaguru did not dismiss us. Instead, through consistent effort, he chiselled us into firebrand spiritualists designed to serve other life forms, be it plant, animal, human or spirit.
With the advent of seva, and the coming of disciples from previous lifetimes like Malhotra ji, Jain Saheb, FC Sharma ji and others, the spiritual movement grew. Many other disciples also showed up on some pretext, and their training began. By mentoring advanced spiritualists, Gurudev came to be acknowledged as a mentor of mentors, the guru of gurus.
The spiritual mastermind was ingenious at role-play. When he had to act tough, he behaved like a father. When he nurtured us, he was as caring as a mother. As big brother, he would don the cape of duality, needling us to act or cajoling us to react. As a guru, he was strict but soft. He treated each of us as if we were his favourite. In our eagerness to please him, we forgot that this spiritual genius was a genie of role-play.
One of his famous one-liners or ek vakyas was,”Main sab ka hu aur sab mere hai. Lekin mein kissi ka nahi hu aur mera koi nahi”. It translates to,”I belong to all, and all belong to me. Yet, I belong to no one, and no one belongs to me.”
Many of his parables were
camouflaged as paradoxes.
Despite being an acknowledged public speaker in my early years, I was usually tongue-tied in the mahaguru’s presence. On the contrary, Uddhav ji led marching brigades of conversation, constantly urging Gurudev to demonstrate more of his powers. In his signature subtle manner, the mahaguru would smile, wielding humour as his Merlin sword to deflect our preposterous queries, directing us instead to what he wanted to share. His powers were not for display; they were reserved for genuine seva.
When his disciple, Malhotra ji, delayed a train to suit his convenience, the mahaguru threatened to withdraw his powers. Malhotra ji later rose to become one of the mahaguru’s most accomplished disciples. The mentor kept a tight vigil and a lofty attitude.
Punishments and rewards carried equal weight in his appraising eye. When he learnt that despite flying to Gurgaon on every Bada Guruvar, I seldom got the chance to do seva due to the continuation request of those before me, he fulfilled my Mahamritunjay mantra and bestowed me with its siddhi. This was a yorker! Without my knowing a single syllable of this mantra, he had endowed me with its energies.
His gifts were as abundant as his severities. When my wife complained about my frequent, late-night spiritual gossip sessions with my gurubhais, he ensured that for three years from that day, I came to Gurgaon for Bada Guruvar and other Thursdays, but instead of seva, I took my wife and kids for a dosa snack. Seva of the wife instead of seva at the sthan! With one googly, he had me for a golden duck.
The results of the tests he threw our way ranged from temporarily suspending seva to permanently yanking it to completely overlooking our faults. The corridor of uncertainty was very narrow, and we were never sure whether to attempt a shot or leave the ball alone! We were left with no choice but to accept our failures sportingly, albeit sheepishly. It took much more than faith and mental fleet-footedness to pass his tests. And as we upskilled, he upgraded his evaluation parameters. It is not that he wanted us to fail. He only wanted us to supersede his excellence. Speaking of his disciples, he would often tell his wife, “I carry them on my shoulders so that they can see much further than I can”. In this simple sentence, he defined a guru’s role and inspired his disciples to follow suit with their downlines.
He could not only read our thoughts from miles away but often tested us in disguise. When Uddhav ji saw two black triangles with yellow eyes float into his room, he grabbed his nunchaku to lash out at them. Gurudev later informed him that he had to appease the accompanying triangular diety so that Uddhav ji would not have to pay the price for the nunchaku aggression with his life. When Bagga Saheb attended to an elegant lady in his shop while ignoring the man in rags, he had no idea that the older man was possibly the master, or his attendant, Augarh, in disguise. We often failed the random tests Gurudev threw at us because we were not vigilant enough.
The mahaguru’s constant watchful gaze tamed many. Even though he didn’t run classes, he gave customised tuitions. His guidance to his admirers, followers and devotees was personalised and not based on any specific premise. He was highly permeable to all philosophies and non-rigid in his practicality.
In his book of metaphysics, there was neither
one concept for all nor all concepts for one,
but different concepts for different people.
He insisted that we find our answers
from within ourselves.
The mentor instilled in us the importance of respecting all religions. He told me, “Beta yeh sab humara hi toh hai”, implying that he accepted all religions as his own. He did not harbour any pseudo-intellectual views on idol worship. Even though we thought of idols as mere stone sculptures, he knew that when they were installed in places of worship, these idols became the face and storehouses of the energies collected there. Gurudev avoided visiting temples or deified monuments because he did not wish to interfere with their energy equation. However, he did advise his disciples to stop for a few seconds at siddh sthans to pay their respects during astral travel. These could be identified astrally as shining lights.
During his astral trips to Mumbai, Gurudev would also stop for a few seconds at Shirdi due to his alliance with Sai Baba. I have heard of Sai coming to the aid of Gurudev’s downlines on some occasions. I requested his darshan for a lady several years ago, and he gladly obliged.
Gurudev at a soil survey camp.
Gurudev set up at least two camps for soil survey and research every year. His first seva as a mahaguru began in Kurwai in 1973. Thousands of people queued for help and healing at the Kathog camp in 1976. The camp at Renuka in 1980 is recognised as his largest public seva or gathering for mass healing.
He didn’t hesitate to set up camps near an open jail in Mungaoli, a cremation ground in Ashok Nagar, or even in the middle of a forest. He always tried to choose venues where he could serve both humans and spirits. From freeing spirits trapped in lower dimensions to granting them birth in human form, the mahaguru served all who sought his help.
His campsites also doubled as training retreats. In Mungaoli, he made me chatter and shiver with chills down my spine because I wore a sweater upon his arrival. I didn’t want him to think I was bragging about not being cold when almost everyone else was snug in their cardigans. By turning my pretence into reality, he demonstrated his control not only over my mind and body but also over nature. I soon realised that surrender to the mahaguru included the sacrifice of false ego, social graces, and make-believe.
Life in these camps was no walk in the park. When Gurudev’s team couldn’t find a suitable location, they often pitched tents on open grounds. Whether it was his bachelorhood room of 120-square-feet, the decrepit district guest houses, or the makeshift tents of his camp stays, the mahaguru was unconcerned about his living conditions.
I eventually understood that mundane aspects of life neither perturbed nor distracted him. Furthermore, by being away from his family for extended periods, the mahaguru lived the life of a renunciate despite being a grihasth. His words, “Grihasth mein bhi vairagya hai”, qualified this sentiment.
Gurudev performs his first public healing at a camp at Kurwai
He clean-bowled us day after day with his simplicity and humility. We often made the mistake of dealing with him solely on a physical level. Uddhav ji did not realise that just because the man did not show his importance did not mean he wasn’t. Jain Saheb did not realise that just because the guru lets you talk to him as if he were a friend did not mean he was. VP Sharma ji did not realise that just because the guru permitted you to take liberties did not mean you were justified. People mistook Gurudev’s mannerisms for who he was. Limited perception of their captain’s distinctiveness put them behind in the batting order, but he saw them as who they were rather than who they thought they were. Knowing that we would transform in the future, he disregarded our physical inadequacies in lieu of our spiritual potencies. And as our coach, he used every manoeuvre to convert us from non-strikers to spiritual batsmen.
Gurudev did not take any liberties with the instructions he received from his spiritual mentor. When he was told to return to the life of a grihasth, he did. When told to renounce his siddhis, he did. The unquestionable surrender to Buddhe Baba altered his spiritual trajectory and fast-forwarded his transformation. The powers of OM, trishul, jyot, shivling, gileri, Nandi, Ganpati and other aspects of the Shiv-parivaar (Shiv family) merged in him, manifesting as symbols on his hands and other parts of his body. These powers gave him control over many cosmic energies. He was liberal in distributing his power symbols and energies. During his second meeting with Gupta ji of Parwanoo, he transferred the OM to his family members and opened a sthan at his home.
As a guru, he was a non-conformist. His teaching methods were more than casual. There was no theory to be pondered or scriptures to be read. He shared his own experiences as lessons with those seated in his tiny 120-square-feet bedroom.
He taught us to balance and amplify our energies. He specified mantra vidya, tapasya and paath, insisting that we spend time perfecting these practices. At specific junctures in our spiritual journeys, he initiated us into remote healing using the power of our minds. He communicated with us through our dreams and visions, training us, sharing messages, forewarning us of upcoming events, and assisting us in perceiving hidden realms. He allowed a few of us to glimpse our past lives.
The mahaguru taught us that the afterlife was a continuum with a different vibration, a much subtler form. He trained a few of us to travel out of the body and acquire the gati required to break the sound barrier upon our earthly exit. He explained that after death, evolved spirits travel through the North Star to higher dimensions or lokas. The significant realisation that the human body was the workhorse for the subtle one (spirit) clarified the purpose of our lives. The spirit needs the human body to transform its qualities, gather realisations, and collect power.
By adhering to the mahaguru’s practices and recommendations, anyone can improve the quality of their existence in this life and beyond.
Gurudev’s organisational skills were complemented by meticulous planning. Bada Guruvar began around 5.30 am, so all arrangements had to be made the night before. Under the strategic supervision of Malhotra ji and operational oversight of the four musketeers – Nikku ji, Pappu ji, Bittu ji, and Gaggu ji, about twenty to thirty sevadaars would organise the queue area and the day’s menu, including prasad for visitors and meals for sevadaars. Duties were assigned to disciples, and time slots were set aside for shoe-stand seva, jal seva, and gaddi seva. The mahaguru himself supervised the supervisors. Batting from the front was his personality streak.
Such meticulous planning also went into organising Ganesh Chauth, Mahashivratri and Guru Purnima. Only this time, the preparations began weeks before the event. In 1984, Gurudev established the Himgiri Charitable Trust and appointed Malhotra ji as its chief trustee. To date, this Trust continues to work for public welfare.
A team of few but capable farmhands looked after his farm in Khandsa. Pehalwan ji, a former wrestler, led this team as they focused on grooming the farm and improving its yield. Gurudev joined them whenever he wasn’t away at camps. The mahaguru would milk cows, plough the land with his tractor, sow seeds, tend to the vegetables, and whatnot! Manual labour on his farm and nurturing its natural inhabitants was his way of discharging his debt to nature. The farm’s produce met the needs of the Gurgaon sthan. Once during Mahashivratri, OMs were found etched in some of the farm’s potatoes. Another time, the potato yield had trishuls, instead! These were either spiritual potatoes or the mahaguru’s way of demonstrating his ability to embed his powers in vegetables!
Wherever Gurudev decided to open sthans, he chose to ally with the presiding local deity of that area. Being a spiritual heavyweight in his current incarnation, he could easily tap into his associations since he had formed these alliances in previous lifetimes. Sai Baba, Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Gobind Singh, Parshuram ji, Lord Krishna, Ganpati, Hanuman, Devis like Renuka, Laxmi, Saraswati, Mahakali, and a host of other spiritual greats were among his allies. He would have astral meetings with some of them to discuss global affairs. I am not sure what to make of this, but in his last few days, he reportedly told his sister-in-law that since Guru Shukracharya and Guru Brihaspati were serving on earth, it was his turn to protect the world from evil forces. This sort of information makes the mahaguru seem like one of the Avengers of Marvel Studios!
The mahaguru had prepared his resting ground before he moved on. He chose Najafgarh in Delhi as his final abode. A few months before his death, he laid a stone there and asked Baljeet ji to build his samadhi. When he departed, his last rites were also carried out there.
The Brighu Samhita confirmed his status as an omnipresent divya aatma, staying at Mount Kailash in Shiv Lok but returning to his samadhi at Najafgarh every afternoon. His limitlessness is still felt at his samadhi and his sthans in Gurgaon and other parts of the world.
Gurudev plows the field at Khandsa.
STEERING THE OBSTACLE COURSE
At his peak, he probably dealt with about a hundred thousand people every month. Yet he met them with a smile and did not rush anyone. Most hotels, hospitals, and other institutions, calculate the number of people per square foot. By that standard, the mahaguru had to see nearly 50,000 people in 600 square feet on some days! That works out to about eighty to ninety people per square foot per day!
In the pursuit of helping those who came to meet him or prayed to his photograph, he had to contend with negative energies such as spirits, black magic attacks, irritated gurus, and the like. To win his case and point, he acted as a defence attorney to the jivaatma of the diseased, the planets and their rays. He frequently made people wait in the queue and return to the sthan several times for treatment. He counted these acts as tapasya and justified his adjustment of their destinies as their deserving merit.
The words are easily written, the actions were not as quickly done! But those who acknowledged the mahaguru owned him. And they saw miracles in every small and big facet of their lives. He became an integral part of their heartbeat and coded their DNA with divinity!