The Transformer

With a mallet and chisel, he kept pitching away,
till all that wasn’t needed was gone.
He polished each facet, smoothed the edges,
till better versions of us were born.

Gurudev - the Guru of Gurus

Gurudev focused not only on changing his own attitudes or gunas but also worked his transformative magic on his disciples.

Ashok ji, a disciple, shares his own story of transformation. Because he was a hothead, he was frequently involved in physical brawls. Despite Gurudev’s advice, he was unable to control his rage. He cut a sorry figure whenever Gurudev asked him, “Beta, gussa kam hua?” (son, has your rage subsided?). Upset with himself for not following his guru’s advice, he resolved to do whatever it took to manage his anger issues. He did not get into a brawl or lose his temper for three months. He silently hoped that his guru would inquire about his progress, but Gurudev never did.

Ashok ji’s resolve crumbled when a worker at his factory was caught stealing money. Despite repeated requests to confess his crime and return what he had stolen, the worker refused to admit wrongdoing. Ashok ji’s rage flared up once more, and he almost struck the worker, but when he reached for an object to slam into the worker’s body, he felt an invisible force stop him!

When Ashok ji met Gurudev a few days later, his guru asked, “Beta, gussa kam hua?”. He approached the mahaguru intending to confess, but the latter placed a finger on his lips, indicating that Ashok ji should remain silent. “Even if you are certain that someone has taken your money, you should believe him when he pleads innocence”, Gurudev said after the crowd in the room had dispersed. The all-knowing mahaguru was already aware of what his disciple had done! Ashok ji’s attitude changed for the better after he realised the error of his ways. He is no longer bothered by criticism or affected by the harshness of another.

While Gurudev used his gentle touch to train Ashok ji in emotional control, Giri ji had a more difficult time. Giri ji, the owner of a factory on Mumbai’s outskirts, slapped a worker who misbehaved with a member of his office staff. When he got home that night, his sister opened the front door and said, “Gurudev is on the phone, and he wants to talk to you”. Gurudev chastised him for his violent behaviour and threatened to break the hand with which he had slapped the worker. Giri ji knew he was done for!

Giri ji did not leave his house for three days, fearing the inevitable. On the fourth morning, his father ordered him to stop neglecting his professional responsibilities and resume work. Heading to his factory in the car, he insisted on sitting in the middle rear seat with his father and uncle on either side to cushion the impact of a possible disaster. When they arrived unharmed, he heaved a huge sigh of relief. That evening, his father asked him to make a quick three-minute trip to the adjacent factory to finish some work. He decided to cover the distance on a scooter, which he drove at a snail’s pace. As he reached the parking lot, a motorcyclist came out of nowhere and crashed into him. The force of the impact fractured the hand with which he had slapped the worker. The lesson had been learned. Giri ji cracked the code and a bone!

Mohan Singh Chira would verbally bully me in the early stages of my spiritual journey in Gurgaon. I let his behaviour develop into a pattern because I was unsure of protocol and didn’t want to cause a scene. Even though Chira was always well-intentioned, his abrasive demeanour undermined my self-esteem and eroded my self-confidence. Gurudev summoned me to his room one day while Chira was ordering me around. He put his hand on my head and told me not to be dominated by anyone. He explained that I had reached a point in my life where I needed to respect myself as much as I respected others. I was not to bow down to any man or spiritual power in the future. Gurudev’s words acted as a catalyst for the resurrection of my self-esteem. And the cat shape-shifted into a lion!

When I walked into the room where Chira was sitting, he resumed his bullying. But this time, I was done with his belligerence and delivered a surprise dose of counter-aggression. He has been in awe of me ever since.

Gurudev was omnipresent and knew
which facets of our personalities
needed to be improved, neutralised or changed.

By weeding out certain habits, attitudes, and conditioning, he laid the groundwork for our emergence as the evolved beings he knew we would eventually become.