THE FAMILY MAN
The Brother

Quote
Tangled in temptation,
They gave him a listen,
And did what he asked them to do.
In return for a pinni,
He asked for a tickle,
A sibling bartering a miracle or two.

Gurudev had six siblings. The eldest was Gurudev’s sister Bimla, while his brother Satish, and sisters, Sudesh, Ramesh, Premlata, and Indira, were younger than him.

Satish ji, whom we fondly called Chacha (father’s younger brother), hero-worshiped his elder brother. When they were kids, their mother would punish Gurudev for mischief-making and not give him food to eat. Chacha would save some jaggery and double-roti (bread) from his own meal to ensure that his older brother, whom he reverentially addressed as Papaji (a Punjabi term for a father figure), did not go hungry.

Chacha grew into a tall and handsome man with a naughty glint in his eyes. Gurudev bestowed his spiritual powers on his younger brother and instructed him to perform seva at Hariana and manage the farm at Khandsa, Gurgaon.

Even though Chacha was a very powerful spiritualist, he is best described as a ‘casualist’. His casual approach to spiritualism helped and healed countless people. He was the keeper of many secret curative recipes, including one that could have put hair colour companies out of business. Fortunately for these companies, the formula to turn grey hair to black transcended to higher realms with him.

Chacha’s spiritual nonchalance led to people underestimating his abilities. His neighbour in Hariana was a tantrik (practitioner of Tantra, an occult science) who had attained a siddhi (power) with which he could capture spirits. Since he used these spirits to earn his livelihood, he saw Chacha, who helped and healed people at no cost, as a threat. Out of spite, the tantrik deputed a few spirits to hurt Chacha and his family. However, they couldn’t create as much as a dent in Chacha’s world.

A few days later, two of the bottles that had been holding the spirits captive, broke. As soon as this happened, the tantrik’s young children playing on the roof of their house fell off and died. He was certain that the escaped spirits had killed his offspring as a form of retribution, and he expected to meet the same fate. So he fled to Chacha in search of forgiveness and protection from the monsters he had created. Chacha not only forgave and protected him but also turned his life around. The tantrik stopped using his siddhi to earn money and focused instead on sattvic pursuits.

Chacha

Chacha

Another tantrik mistook Chacha’s laid-back attitude as a sign of spiritual weakness, only to be taught a lesson he would never forget. This tantrik cast a spell on the water pump that irrigated the Khandsa farm, causing it to malfunction. When he smirked and challenged Chacha to use his spiritual powers to repair the malfunctioning equipment, the latter casually sprinkled jal on it. As he did, the water pump roared to life. The tantrik who was sitting on the wall of a well, watching what was going on, fell into it! He begged Chacha for mercy as he crawled out after being spiritually decimated. The ‘casualist’ casually forgave him.

Even though Chacha was Gurudev’s brother, he never used their relationship to his advantage. His humility and nonchalance only enhanced his affability. Nothing fazed him other than his elder brother’s ire.

Chacha was hospitalised in his final days at Chandigarh’s Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI). Gurudev stayed by his younger brother’s side, tending to his every need. He left Chandigarh on the twelfth day since he had to be present at Gurgaon for Guru Purnima (a spiritual tradition where a disciple performs an act of symbolic surrender of his ego to the guru). As Gurudev bid goodbye to his beloved brother, he softly said, “Do not die before Guru Puja (prayer)”.

Chacha succumbed to his illness on 2nd August 1988, exactly two days after Guru Purnima, thereby ensuring his elder brother’s seva was not disrupted. His wife, Snehlata, and their two sons, Ajay, and Sanjay, survive him. Snehlata ji runs the Hariana sthan with the assistance of Harish ji, an old disciple of Gurudev who also runs a sthan in Hoshiarpur.

Returning to Gurudev’s story. His younger sisters recall that when Gurudev was a small child, he had an unusual relationship with a Ganpati idol in their home. At times, he would politely ask for the idol’s help and at other times threaten it with annihilation if his work was not done. Initially, his family dismissed Gurudev’s words as the ramblings of an overly imaginative mind, but over time, it became clear to them that there was more to the relationship than met the eye.

Following a sibling spat, Gurudev asked the Ganpati idol to ensure his elder sister, Bimla, failed an upcoming exam. He also declared that he would distribute sweets if his wish found fruition. Bimla ji, who had burnt the midnight oil in preparation, complained to their father, who in turn reprimanded his son for his unkind words. However, when the result was declared, Bimla ji had failed the test. She sobbed and blamed Gurudev for her failure. Their father, of course, put wood to skin!

A few years later, Ganpati came to Gurudev’s aid in another matter.

Gurudev’s parents, frustrated with their son’s lack of interest in his studies, asked a cousin’s husband to assist them in steering their son in a more academic direction. That man was known to be a hard taskmaster who wasn’t afraid to crack the whip. He made a concerted effort to straighten Gurudev out. However, he quickly discovered that his new student was unwilling to change his ways.

Angry at Gurudev for his stubbornness and upset with his failure, the cousin’s husband waged that Gurudev tasting success in the upcoming exam was an impossibility. So sure, was he of this outcome that he went on to add that if Gurudev did pass, the Punjab University would shut forever! Hearing these words, Gurudev rushed to the Ganpati idol and threatened to smash it to smithereens if he failed the exam. The threat worked. Gurudev passed the exam with average marks, and a matriculate was born.

Gurudev’s younger sisters remembered him as an indulgent older brother who treated them with affection and levity. His powers, which had yet to find a mature spiritual expression, did not impress them in the least. In their eyes, his bewildering antics  were merely a means to an ostensibly ‘sweet’ end.

Pinni, a popular north Indian sweet, adds an inch to your waist while subtracting a year off your life. Gurudev’s little sisters, like most Punjabis, loved to binge on these delectable treats. He used their sensory weakness as a bargaining chip to get them to do his bidding. He would promise them pinnis in exchange for scratching his back. And the sisters would gladly comply.

Aware of her brood’s unhealthy appetite for all things saccharine, Gurudev’s mother would lock the homemade pinnis in a cupboard and never let the key out of her sight. Surprisingly, Gurudev would materialise these pinnis without putting key to lock! When their mother unlocked the cupboard, Gurudev’s sisters discovered that the same number of pinnis they had consumed had gone missing from the batch that had been stored there. Nonetheless, his little sisters dismissed Gurudev’s eye-popping method of extracting pinnis from locked cupboards as just another item on a long list of things their elder brother was capable of.

As a young boy, Gurudev had yet to recognise the divinity in his being, but there were glimpses of some of the abilities that would one day be used, not to satiate his sisters’ appetites but to lead countless people on the road to spiritual transformation.

Years later, his sisters discovered quite by chance that their brother had become a guru. Gurudev’s job required him to go on official tours that lasted months, so he would send his sisters a letter informing them of his whereabouts. In the summer of 1976, they received a letter from him telling them that he was stationed at Kathog in Himachal Pradesh.

Gurudev’s sister had never heard of Kathog, so she sought information from a classmate, Dilbag, who was from Jwalaji. Dilbag informed her that Kathog had recently gained fame due to a man known as ‘OM wale Baba’ (the saint with an OM on his palm) performing incredible healing miracles. When Gurudev stopped at Hariana on his way to Gurgaon, his sister asked if he had met ‘OM wale Baba.’ Only then did he admit to being the man in question.

Gurudev was the pivot in his siblings’ lives. He was someone who nurtured, indulged, and protected them. His siblings witnessed the incredible journey that saw the little magician from Haryana transform into a guru with unimaginable powers.

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