About Maharajji’s Durbar

Lovingly addressed as Maharaj, Baba was a master of the spiritual world. Some compared the gathering of devotees around him to the court of a king surrounded by his courtiers. Unlike a king's court, however, no one held a position in Baba's durbar nor did it have a set venue, time, or duration. Everyone could sit wherever they liked, and there was no obligation for visitors to bow to Maharaj. The durbar would assemble anywhere - in the ashram, by the side of the road, under a tree in the forest, or in the house of a devotee. It was always open to everyone. One of the remarkable features of Baba's durbar was that although it assembled and dispersed, its continuity was maintained. One durbar would end, but another would assemble in no time, wherever Baba went. His great love for people and their love for him assured an unbroken sequence of visitors.

The subject of conversation in Baba's durbar arose spontaneously and was never prearranged. Baba usually asked the new visitor three questions : What is your name? Where have you come from? What do you do ? It was often from these three questions that a conversation would ensue. Once, Baba put the third question as follows, "You, lawyer, what do you do?" Everybody burst into laughter, for Baba had revealed his omniscience. Maharaj just smiled.

Many of Baba's lilas took place in his durbar. Sometimes he answered the questions of foreigners before the interpreter had finished translating them, and he would ask about members of their family by name.

While Baba did not preach or give religious discourses, he would often turn the conversation towards spiritual matters. Even when the topic of conversation was common and worldly, which it often was, the implication of Baba's words always had a deeper meaning. Sometimes Baba constantly repeated an ordinary word like a child. Two words, "nan" and "thul" from the Kumaon dialect are synonyms for "small" and "big"; Baba used these words like a chant and would utter "nan, nan" and "thul, thul" continuously. Occasionally he would repeat these words in his durbar for days on end. The mystery lay in the repetition; hearing them again and again, the devotees lost the distinction between big and small or high and low. Consequently, the vast community of Baba's devotees greeted and embraced each other without discrimination of caste and creed.

The purpose of Baba's advice or orders was always very deep. Even common words like "come" and "go" had special implications when spoken by him. Those who were experienced with his way of speaking always thought it better to follow his commands verbatim. The result of non-compliance with his orders or of making any change in them according to the dictates of one's own mental ability was always disappointing and sometimes damaging.

Baba would often say something simple to one person while another person would receive a powerful message from the same words. Sometimes he would speak in a gathering and only the individual to whom he directed his words would hear them. Others would not hear anything. On occasion Baba would accuse an innocent person of a misdeed when the guilty person was present. The innocent person, although surprised at the accusation would consider this as part of Baba's lila, whereas the guilty person would understand that Baba knew the truth and feel remorse for his deeds.

Baba enjoyed solving people's problems and happily gave answers to their questions all day and night. people came to him with spiritual questions as well as all types of worldly desires and problems. Some came to him to enquire about their job prospects, some regarding their health or family problems. Businessmen came seeking advice, and others sought boons for prosperity. Students and politicians crowded around him hoping for a glimpse into their future, and childless couples sought his blessings for children. Baba would provide practical solutions to all kinds of matters. He would even speak on subjects such as child-care and suggest remedies for various ailments. Questions were asked on politics, philosophy, yoga, devotion, ethics, diverse personal subjects, conduct, and many other topics. Baba answered even complex questions in a few clear and simple words.

Baba openly admired virtues in his durbar so that people might be inspired to take on good qualities. Likewise, he condemned wrongdoing, immorality, and deception so that people might renounce them. Baba showered affection on a woman who was devoted to her husband in thought, word, and deed, and addressing her as "Sati(the virtuous)," praised her profusely. On the other hand, he was displeased with men and women who argued a lot and disturbed the peace at home. Behind this apparent disapproval, his grace would still flow towards them indirectly. Baba would openly discuss and solve family problems, and in this way, he encouraged others to improve upon their own behaviour. Baba said, "A wife dedicated to her husband is greater than a yogi." And, "Mother is the image of God."

Baba's devotees came from all walks of life, and although some of them led lives of dissipation, he did not always insist on making them give up their bad habits. On the contrary, he gave them opportunities to carry on and spent time in their company. In due course, they gave up their bad habits on their own. He often told people "All are born into this world with natural wisdom and God is the great giver of this wisdom." Whenever Baba addressed an atheist or a wicked person as a devotee or saint, he sowed a seed of goodness that often brought about a change. With the passage of time, the seed would sprout, grow, bloom, and finally bear fruit. It was common for such people to pass through a transformation.

Baba treated everyone equally. Although saints generally maintain distance from women, Baba mingled with them freely. He could playfully hold the hand of any woman and without any hesitaion, catch hold of her nose and tweak it for fun. Nothing was seen as inappropriate in his behaviour. Both male and female devotees pressed and massaged his feet. His presence and touch communicated such good thoughts and feelings that everyone felt uplifted. Baba regarded all human beings as his own children and treated them accordingly. He often said, "You feel pestered with a few children, but I have so many."

Like parents with children, Baba was familiar with everyone. He addressed even eminent persons using the words "tu" and "tum" (In the Hindi language, both "tu" and "tu" mean "you" , but they are used to address people of inferior status or as a term of endearment) and he used "hum"("we") to refer to himself.

His use of informal language was soaked with love and affection. His utterances, like "Tum samajhte nahin, hamari kahi suno"(You do not understand, listen to what I say"), and "Humain bawla mat banao, hum sab jante hain"(Don't drive me mad, I know everything.") delighted everyone. A devotee said that Maharaj once asked a group of people who had gathered to see him, "Why do you come to me?"

Baba answered himself saying, "You come to me because of my love for you."

Sometimes Baba showed his familiarity by asking someone to shake hands with him on some matter. When the person hesitated, he would quickly take their hand in his own. People generally had no reluctance to talk to him, however, even when a visitor was at ease in Baba's presence, sometimes their thoughts and speech would inexplicably change. Perhaps they would only say what Baba wanted them to say or others to hear. If Baba did not want a person to say anything, the person concerned either forgot or with every effort, could not say anything, even though they were perfectly free to do so. Whatever Baba willed to happen would happen, and what he did not want would never take place. Sometimes a photographer would come to take Baba's photo. Baba would smile and allow it. Yet, when the film was developed, Baba's image would not have been captured. The same thing happened if someone tried to record Baba's voice without his consent.

If a devotee convinced someone of Baba's greatness and took him to have darshan, Baba would present himself in such a way that all the eulogies about him appeared exaggerated or embellished and the devotee felt embarassed. Incredible as it may sound, Baba's darshan could only be had by his grace. No one could come to him of their own accord. Similarly, some poeple would become devoted to him after one visit. Others could not understand his elevated spirituality even after a long association with him.In any case, all were blessed by his sight.

The attraction of Baba's presence cannot be expressed in words. His countenance fascinated visitors. Hours spent with him felt like fleeting moments. Those who came to him never wanted to go away. Nevertheless, Baba knew of people's responsibilities and sent them off saying, "Come again."

If Baba told someone to go, they generally did not encounter difficulties on their way, and their work at hand was often accomplished without delay. On the other hand, a person with pressing work would be waiting to get Baba's permission to leave the durbar, and Baba would turn to a person who wished to stay and send them away instead. Eventually it was seen that whenever a person was asked to go, it was the approriate time for him or her to leave. Either way, Baba's durbar could be summarized as "Aao, khao, jao(Come,eat,go)," and the flow of grace as well as the coming and going never ceased.

-from The Divine Reality