THE FAMILY MAN
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 his sister Bimla, while his brother Satish, and sisters, Sudesh, Ramesh, Premlata, and Indira were younger than him.
Satish ji, affectionately known as Chacha, adored Gurudev and reverently addressed him as Papaji. Their mother would punish Gurudev for mischief-making when they were kids by withholding food from him. Chacha would save some of his jaggery and bread to ensure that his elder brother did not go hungry.
Chacha grew into a tall and handsome man with a naughty glint in his eyes. Gurudev bestowed spiritual powers on him and instructed him to undertake seva at Hariana and oversee his farm at Khandsa.
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 into black transcended to higher realms with him.
Chacha’s nonchalance led to people underestimating his spiritual abilities. His neighbour in Hariana was a tantrik who had attained a siddhi by 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 make a dent in Chacha’s world.
Two bottles in which the tantrik held spirits captive broke a few days later. As soon as this happened, the tantrik’s young children playing on the roof of their house fell off and died. He was sure the escaped spirits had killed his offspring as retribution and expected to meet the same fate. So he fled to Chacha to seek 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 on sattvic pursuits.
Another tantrik mistook Chacha’s laid-back attitude as a sign of spiritual weakness, only to be taught a lesson he would never forget. He 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 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 at PGI in Chandigarh during his final days. Gurudev stayed by his side, tending to his every need. He left Chandigarh on the twelfth day since he had to be present at Gurgaon for Guru Purnima. As Gurudev bid farewell to his beloved brother, he softly said, “Do not die before Guru Purnima”. Two days later, on 2nd August 1988, Chacha succumbed to his illness, ensuring his elder brother’s seva was not disrupted. He is survived by his wife, Snehlata, and two sons.
Gurudev’s sisters have their tales to tell. They recall their brother having an unusual relationship with a Ganpati idol in their home when he was a small child. Often he would ask for the idol’s help or threaten it with annihilation if his work was not done. His family initially dismissed his words as the ramblings of an overly imaginative child. Still, it became clear over time 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 proclaimed that he would distribute sweets if his wish came true. Bimla ji, who had burned the midnight oil in preparation, complained to their father, who reprimanded his son for his unkind words. When she failed the exam, she sobbed and blamed her brother. Their father, of course, put wood to his son’s skin!
A few years later, Ganpati came to Gurudev’s aid in another matter. Gurudev’s parents, frustrated with his lack of interest in studies, enlisted the help of a cousin’s husband to steer him in a more academic direction. That man had a reputation for being 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 frustrated by his failure, he waged that Gurudev’s success in the upcoming exam was impossible. So sure was he of this outcome that he went on to add that if Gurudev did pass, Punjab University would shut! Hearing these words, Gurudev ran to the Ganpati idol and threatened to smash it to smithereens if he failed the exam. The threat worked. He passed the exam with average marks, and a matriculate was born.
His younger sisters remembered him as an indulgent brother who treated them with affection and levity. His powers, which had yet to find a mature spiritual expression, did not impress them. In their eyes, his bewildering antics were merely a means to an ostensibly sweet end.
Pinni, a famous north Indian sweet, adds an inch to your waist while subtracting a year from 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. Ah! And the sisters would gladly comply.
Aware of her brood’s unhealthy appetite for all things sweet, 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 without putting key to lock! Whenever their mother unlocked the cupboard, her daughters would discover that the same number of pinnis they had consumed were missing from the batch stored there! Nonetheless, they dismissed their brother’s eye-popping method of extracting pinnis from locked cupboards as just another item on a long list of things he was capable of.
As a young boy, Gurudev had yet to recognise the divinity in his being. Still, 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.
As a man who chose to keep his supernature a secret, he did not reveal his spiritual transformation to his own family. Years later, his sisters learned 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 them a postcard informing them of his whereabouts. They received a letter from him in the summer of 1976, notifying them that he was stationed at Kathog in Himachal Pradesh. They had never heard of Kathog, so one of them sought information from her classmate, Dilbag, a native of Jwalaji. Dilbag apprised her that Kathog had recently gained fame due to a man known as ‘OM wale baba’ (the saint with an OM) 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 nurtured, indulged, and protected them. They witnessed the incredible journey of the little miracle-maker into a mahaguru with unimaginable powers.