Gurudev’s job as a soil surveyor with the Ministry of Agriculture allowed him to practice vanprastha ashram (stage of partial retirement from worldly pursuits) as it involved setting up camp at one place for a few months. During this period, soil analysis was conducted in the appurtenant areas. Sometimes these camps were set up in panchayat buildings and sometimes at guest houses. In remote areas where accommodation was not easily available, the 5 to 6 member team would camp in tents.
Shri R.C. Malhotra
In 1963, while on a joint tour of Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Gurudev befriended a colleague named Shri. R.C. Malhotra.
Malhotra ji was impressed by Gurudev’s simplicity, honesty, and spiritual leanings. Over time, he observed that Gurudev had no attachment to money or desire for materialistic things. If a co-worker didn’t have money to pay the rent, Gurudev would give him part of the rent money; if a peon didn’t have the money for his daughter’s wedding ceremonies, Gurudev would hand over a part of his monthly salary to him.
The countless instances of Gurudev’s magnanimity, though inspiring, were a cause of concern for Malhotra ji. His advice that Gurudev saves for a rainy day, fell on deaf ears. Eventually, Malhotra ji was forced to keep his friend’s cheque and passbooks in his custody. He would provide Gurudev with the amount the latter needed to meet his daily expenses ensuring that the Mahaguru lived on pocket money drawn from his own salary!
Besides playing the role of a bookkeeper, Malhotra ji also became a spiritual apprentice to Gurudev. Gradually he was drawn deeper into the world of spiritualism. In 1971, while prostrating at Gurudev’s feet in the sacred waters of the Ganges, Malhotra ji was initiated into disciple hood becoming the first of many disciples on whom Gurudev bestowed his powers.
It is widely believed that Gurudev had 11 disciples whom he carried forward from his past. However, in this lifetime, Gurudev also recruited many others as his disciples, as well as disciples for his disciples, thereby creating a multilevel spiritual pyramid. Besides, he also collected many ganns. A gann is a spiritual heir who has the potential to evolve to the level of the spiritual icon he or she has studied under.
During the initiation ritual, Gurudev instructed Malhotra ji to touch his feet while lying horizontally under the water. Malhotra ji remembered, “I hesitated because the water current was too strong and I did not know how to swim. Gurudev commanded me to follow his instructions and to my utter surprise, the waters of the Ganges became still. I obeyed his command and the initiation ceremony was complete.”
When a stunned Malhotra ji asked Gurudev how the river had come to a standstill, the latter calmly informed him that the elements of nature were under his control.
However, the transition from friend to disciple wasn’t an easy one for Malhotra ji. He often spoke about the difficulties he faced initially in accepting a friend as his Guru. But accept he did!
Malhotra ji went on to become one of the most accomplished proponents of Gurudev’s philosophy of selfless service. He also enrolled in the ‘Server, not the Served’ program and assisted Gurudev in the training and protection of the disciples who needed help. Following Gurudev’s instruction, Malhotra ji taught me the technique of gati (speed travel) in the dream state. I woke up the next morning having attained the knowledge of superfast astral travel thanks to Gurudev’s first disciple.
Malhotra ji’s kindness also extended beyond the dream state. There were many instances when he would champion the cause of his guru-bhais in front of Gurudev. However, there were other occasions where we found ourselves at the receiving end of Malhotra ji’s naughty streak. His harmless antics were aimed at incurring Gurudev’s ire for he knew the blessing that lay cloaked in the Mahaguru’s harshness.
One day, a new disciple of Gurudev who went on to become a very accomplished and evolved spiritualist, became the target of one of Malhotra ji’s pranks. As a new entrant learning the spiritual ropes, the disciple was misled by Malhotra ji into believing that the right way to chant the Mahamritunjay mantra was by sitting in padamasna (a yogic posture) on a buffalo, facing its tail.
Surprised by the strangeness of the prescribed ritual, the disciple sought confirmation from Gurudev on whether this was indeed the correct technique for him to adopt. Amused, Gurudev asked the disciple who had shared this misinformation with him which lead to Malhotra ji being summoned to Gurudev’s room. The master role-player that was Gurudev mildly reprimanded Malhotra ji who welcomed the reprimand with a boyish grin.
Unfortunately for the buffalo, Gurudev’s timely intervention prevented it from having the honour of a powerful spiritualist sitting on it.
An event that almost happened
Malhotra ji left his body in April 2019 after devoting his life to Gurudev’s mission of seva. He was one among an army of spiritualists who evolved to great spiritual heights under Gurudev’s mentorship.