Since his job as a soil surveyor required him to be camped in remote areas, away from his family for months, Gurudev was able to practise vanaprasth ashram. His five to six-member team would set up camps in panchayat buildings or guest houses. They would sometimes camp in tents in remote areas if no other options were available.
During a joint tour of Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in 1963, Gurudev befriended a colleague named RC Malhotra. Malhotra ji was impressed by Gurudev’s simplicity, honesty, and spiritual leanings. He noticed that Gurudev had no attachment to money or desire for worldly possessions. Instead, he observed several instances of Gurudev’s benevolence. If a coworker couldn’t pay his rent, the mahaguru would fund a portion of it; if a peon couldn’t afford his daughter’s wedding, he would give him a part of his salary. So on and so forth.
Shri R.C. Malhotra
Malhotra ji became a spiritual apprentice to Gurudev and was gradually drawn deeper into the world of spiritualism. He was initiated into discipleship in 1971 while prostrating at the mahaguru’s feet in the Ganges, becoming the first of many disciples to whom Gurudev bequeathed his powers.
During the initiation ritual, Gurudev instructed Malhotra ji to touch his feet while lying horizontally underwater. Malhotra ji recalled, “I hesitated because the water current was too strong for me, and I didn’t know how to swim, but he told me to follow his instructions, and much to my surprise, the Ganges became still. I carried out his order until the completion of the initiation ceremony”. When a stunned Malhotra ji inquired how the river had come to a standstill, his guru calmly replied that the elements of nature were under his control.
Malhotra ji struggled at first to make the transition from friend to disciple. Despite the difficulties in accepting a friend as a guru, accept he finally did!
He rose to spiritual prominence as one of the most accomplished proponents of Gurudev’s philosophy of selfless service. He also assisted the mahaguru in training and promoting other disciples, transforming himself into a server rather than the served. On the mahaguru’s instructions, he appeared in my dream to teach me the technique of gati or superfast astral travel.
Malhotra ji’s generosity went beyond the realm of dreams. On numerous occasions, he advocated for his gurubhais in front of the mahaguru. However, there were times when we were on the receiving end of his naughty streak. His harmless antics were designed to arouse Gurudev’s wrath because he knew blessings lay hidden even in the mahaguru’s harshness.
One of Malhotra ji’s pranks targeted a new disciple of Gurudev, who eventually became a very accomplished spiritualist. He misled the disciple into believing that the correct way to chant the Mahamritunjay mantra was to sit in padmasana on the back of a buffalo, facing its tail. Surprised by the strangeness of the prescribed ritual, the disciple sought confirmation from his guru. Gurudev, amused, asked the disciple who had given him this incorrect information, resulting in Malhotra ji being summoned to his room. The master role-player mildly reprimanded his first disciple, who accepted it with a boyish grin. Unfortunately for the buffalo, Gurudev’s timely intervention kept a powerful spiritualist from sitting on it!
An event that almost happened
Malhotra ji passed away in April 2019 after dedicating his life to the mahaguru’s mission. He was among an army of spiritualists who rose to greater spiritual heights under Gurudev’s mentorship.
It is a widespread belief that Gurudev carried forward eleven disciples from his past. In this lifetime, he also recruited many others as his disciples and disciples of his disciples, thereby creating a multilevel spiritual pyramid. He also collected many ganns or spiritual heirs with the potential to evolve to the level of their spiritual mentors.