THE FAMILY MAN
They watched him stand tall in every storm,
Accepting the here and now.
There was no pageantry, no sermons to give,
He just lived and taught them how.
As a parent, Gurudev wasn’t overtly demonstrative of his affection. His love for his children found expression in the wisdom he shared with them, as well as the few moments of fatherly indulgence he allowed himself.
When a well-known Indian actor suffered serious injuries on the sets of a film, Gurudev’s daughter Renu ji and son Parvesh ji begged their father for assistance, confident that his intervention would save the actor’s life. When Gurudev noticed the fan army of two in tears, he indulgently asked them to write their request on paper and leave it at the sthan with the actor’s photograph. As fate would have it, the actor survived the odds, and Gurudev’s young children got a moon on a stick.
E Even though he spent most of his free time in the service of others, Gurudev was always mindful of his fatherly duties. When his daughters needed advice, he served as a sounding board. During the Basant (spring) festival, he would make kites for his sons and teach them the subtle nuances of kite running.
During their summer vacations, Gurudev’s family would travel to one of his soil-survey camps. Gurudev meticulously planned these trips, knowing that his young children had short attention spans. Because there wasn’t much to do at the camps at night, he’d bring a video cassette player and tens of videotapes with him so the family could spend their evenings watching movies. On occasion, he would prepare simple dishes such as poha and upma for everyone. The food may have been a commoner’s fare, but neither the hands that prepared it nor the energy that passed through his eyes were ordinary.
The aura (a bio-electric energy field that encompasses all life forms) is transmitted through the eyes and can affect the food you are cooking or looking at.
Even though Gurudev was the perfect host, serving simple yet delicious meals to his guests, there was never a time when something special was prepared just for him. He ate whatever was put in front of him gratefully and without fuss.
Renu ji admitted that as a young girl, she wished Gurudev would spend more time with her and her siblings and less time with the visitors who came to their home for help and healing. When she expressed her disappointment to her mother, Mataji said, “Beta (child), if a few minutes of your father’s time can bring relief to someone in pain, should we not prioritise that?” Renu ji never complained about it again. Her father’s compassion drove her to feed the poor and tutor the children of migrant labourers who worked nearby.
Renu ji also marvelled at Gurudev’s organisational skills when he went on trips with large groups of people with hardly any pre-planning or budgeting. On one such trip to Mussoorie, a picturesque hill station in Uttarakhand, she learned an invaluable lesson.
One day, Gurudev instructed a disciple, Indu Sharma, to ensure everyone, including Mataji, ate lunch before heading out for an excursion. Indu ji, who oversaw the kitchen, prepared a potato and capsicum dish with rotis for the thirty-five people in Gurudev’s entourage. After everyone except her had eaten, she told Renu ji to approach Gurudev and ask him if she could serve him lunch.
When Renu ji relayed the message to her father, he walked purposefully to the kitchen catching Indu ji unawares. Despite multiple requests that Indu ji be allowed to serve him in his room, Gurudev insisted that he be served there and then. Hesitatingly, Indu ji removed the lid off the kadai (frying pan) to reveal only a tiny quantity of the remaining vegetable dish. She placed the vegetables and two rotis on a plate and handed it to Gurudev. In turn, he picked up another plate, divided the meal into two parts, and handed one plate to Indu ji , asking her to eat as well.
Renu ji watched Gurudev eat his meal with a smile on his face. After finishing, he turned to her and said, “Putt, jennu khellaan che mazaa agaya na, khaane da mazaa nahin rehnda.” When translated from Punjabi, these words mean–
One who learns the pleasure
of feeding others,
seldom cares about feeding
As a father, Gurudev never told his children how to live. He lived and let them watch how he did it. He led by example, encouraged them to elevate their thinking, and counselled them to a life of empathy and compassion.
Gurudev’s sons, Parvesh ji and Puneet ji, are involved in seva, while his three daughters, Renu ji, Ila ji, and Alka ji, are married and live-in various parts of India. Their father’s wise counsel has served them well. Gurudev was a father figure to his biological children and countless others who looked up to him. The four musketeers of the Gurgaon sthan – Nikku, Pappu, Bittu, and Gaggu – were among his non-biological offspring. This domestic caucus of four occupied an interesting and frequently difficult to categorise place in his life. They looked after his daily needs, oversaw the roster of patients who came to the sthan, and did the odd jobs that come with running such a large institution.
They lectured Gurudev when he didn’t eat his food on time or neglected his health because they were incorrigible bullies who adored Gurudev. It was strange to see the mahaguru being dominated domestically by the quartet. In their presence, he would put on an Oscar-worthy performance of submission, perfecting the role of a meek father. Gurudev’s innate ability to transform into whatever the situation demanded endeared him to all. Bittu ji recalled a humorous incident that exemplified this aspect of Gurudev’s personality. Gurudev took part in a game of street cricket with Bittu ji and his friends sometime in the late 1970s. Gurudev was batting at the crease when he attempted a shot and missed, and the cricket ball became lodged in his lungi (an Indian sarong). The bowler, certain that it was a case of leg before wicket, appealed vehemently. With a firm “Not Out!” and refusal to vacate the crease, Gurudev turned down the appeal against him. The unfair lungi dance made everyone laugh, and it demonstrated how Gurudev alternated between being a guru and playing whatever role was expected of him. He wore many hats throughout his life, including those of a guru, husband, father, son, brother, and friend, all while acting out emotions unemotionally.
Showcasing an unfair Lungi Dance!
Gurudev was no aspiring cricketer. Fortunately, he didn’t have a square leg or a deep fine leg, and he didn’t spend his time bowling maidens over. Nonetheless, he recognised spiritual line and length. Many of his lessons served as bouncers for his students. However, as spiritual offspring of a mahaguru, they learned to win the spiritual coin toss and were rewarded for their skill with a ‘well played’!