Since his job as a soil surveyor required him to be camped in remote areas, away from his family for months at a time, Gurudev was able to practise vanaprasth ashram. His five to six-member team would set up camps in panchayat buildings or guest houses. Sometimes they would camp in tents in remote areas if the accommodation was not readily available.
Gurudev befriended a colleague named Shri RC Malhotra in 1963, while on a joint tour of Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Gurudev’s simplicity, honesty, and spiritual leanings impressed Malhotra ji. He observed that Gurudev had no attachment to money or desire for worldly possessions. If a co-worker did not have enough money to pay the rent, the mahaguru would fund a portion of the rent; if a peon did not have enough money for his daughter’s wedding, then he would give him a part of his salary. Malhotra ji noticed several instances of Gurudev’s magnanimity.
Shri R.C. Malhotra
He 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. He told me to follow his instructions, and to my complete surprise, the Ganges became still. I carried out his order, and the initiation ceremony was completed”. When a stunned Malhotra ji inquired as to 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 protecting 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 and evolved spiritualist. Malhotra ji 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 Gurudev’s 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 one among an army of spiritualists who rose to greater spiritual heights under Gurudev’s mentorship.
It is a widespread belief that Gurudev had eleven disciples whom he carried forward 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. Besides, he also collected many ganns or spiritual heirs with the potential to evolve to the level of their spiritual mentors.