Ram Narayan Sinha, Ayodhya Nath, Akbar Ali Khan, Jaidev Singh
In spite of my close association with Babaji, I acquired my devotion for Baba and whatever understanding of him I might have from the gifts of the open hearts of his old and selfless devotees.
Each devotee experiences Babaji in his own unique way. Tularam Sah said, "Babaji is the greatest sage of the age." Ram Narayan Sinha said, "He is Hanuman." Akbar Ali Khan said, "No pir (saint) or paigambar (prophet), but he is actually Khuda (God)." Thakur Jaidev Singh said, "He is Bhagwan."
I could not disbelieve them. They poured out their experiences in full ecstasy. They are as true to me as the experience I myself had on the bank of the Ganges when he whispered in my ear, "Ram nam karne se sab pura ho jata." (Everything is accomplished by taking the name of Ram.)
Most of the incidents recorded here were related in Babaji's lifetime either in his presence or when he moved about. They have been told and retold to the devotees, and Babaji did not object to that.
Shri Ram Narayan Sinha lived in Allahabad after retiring from service and used to come to Babaji when he stayed here in winter. It was difficult for him to narrate stories about Baba's unusual grace without shedding copious tears. He had to stop talking several times while narrating his experiences and could not sit before Babaji for too long a time. He had started his career as a police sub-inspector at the lowest cadre in the service, but rose very high in the job by his honesty and hard labor. Shri Sinha used to say that his rise was not by his efforts, but by the sheer grace which came to him unsought at a very early stage and continued all through his life.
He had been posted at Mathura as a sub-inspector and was staying in a small house with his wife and his young stepbrother. One day while getting ready to go to work, the front door was pushed open. A big person with a blanket on, followed by two others, entered the room. Ram Narayan said, "They were not known to me. Pointing his finger at me, this person said, 'You are Ram Narayan Sinha. You are sad because of the quarrel between your brother and your wife.'
I was gazing at him when someone shouted, 'He is Babaji—Neem Karoli Baba! Both my wife and brother were standing before him. Hearing that he was a baba, my wife touched his feet. When my brother, a teenager, bent to his feet, Babaji shouted at him, 'You quarrel with your sister-in-law and make her cry. She is actually your mother and does so much for you. Bow at her feet and never quarrel with her again.'" Ram Narayan said afterwards that this was a great event in his life. "It not only made the opening for the flow of his grace in my life, but also removed the canker that was so greatly disturbing family peace."
He continued, "Babaji then left the house, saying, 'You have to go to work and I must also go.' While coming out behind him, I found many persons were waiting for him. It so happened that I had to take the same path to my office as he was going. Along the way, he would come to one house or another and taking the name of the person to whom they belonged, said he knew them all. By the time he reached the Dwarkadish temple, a large crowd had gathered around him. When the temple priest came before him, Babaji shouted, 'You have no son. How will you have one when you do not allow the children to come to the Child?' Pointing his finger to the murti of Dwarkadhish, he said, 'He is also a child and wants to play with the children. You prevent them from coming to Him, so how can you have a son of your own?'
"While everyone was left wondering what all this meant, the panicky priest fell at his feet, and with tears flowing from the eyes, begged Baba for mercy and to bless him with a son. The storm was over and the sun came out. Smiling, Baba said, 'All right you will have your son. But you must open the door for the children to come.' When Babaji had gone, the priest said that he knew that Baba came to the temple to bless him. Two years after that, he had his son."
Ram Narayan said that during his long period of service, he had to work in many different places in the state and it was very difficult to have Babaji's darshan when he wanted it. In almost every town where he was posted, there were people who knew Babaji. Sometimes Babaji visited them, but it was difficult for him to contact Baba by searching him out. Baba was an itinerant saint, and nobody knew about his visits or movement except when they were with him.
Ram Narayan said he also suffered from an additional handicap: Babaji's devotees, like all others, generally used to stay away from the police and would not easily fraternize with them socially. This made it difficult to keep in contact with the other devotees in order to keep track of Babaji. He was emphatic that there was no such discrimination in Babaji's mind. The police were as near and dear to him as his devotees in other walks of life. Ram Narayan mentioned the names of many high-placed police officials, such as Jamuna Prasad Tripathi, Rai Bahadur Tika Ram, Chaudhary Omkar Singh, and Shri Deep Narain Rai, who were among his very great devotees and received his grace freely. He said his experience was that getting darshan had to be left to Baba's decision; all he could do was remember him in his heart.
One day, while officiating as Superintendent of Police at Bijnor, he learned that his claim for confirmation as Superintendent had been rejected and he was to revert to his previous post. This was a very big shock and disappointment for him. He had officiated as Superintendent for several years with full credit, but the claim was rejected on the technical grounds that he did not come through proper selection, but through promotions from the lower ranks.
Ram Narayan narrated, "This was a great disgrace for me, and how was I to face it? So I decided to resign. There was a pall of mourning over the entire household. I was in my official quarter within closed doors in the evening and there was no cooking in the house that night, as everyone was in distress. It was about nine when a policeman knocked at the gate. He said, 'Someone is sitting on the road ahead, and he asked me to send you to him.' I actually jumped up. I was convinced that it must be Babaji who had come at this time of night when I was shedding tears and remembering him.
"When I reached there, Babaji was sitting in the middle of the road. There was not much traffic because it was within the official quarters. Facing me he said, 'You are going to resign from your job? What kind of a man are you? You have not allowed food to be cooked and have made everybody in the house miserable. Don't worry. You will remain in your present post and be made permanent.' I said there was no such chance; the decision was final.
"He said, 'How can that be? There will be the Lahiri Commission going through such cases and you will be confirmed.' Then he said, 'Bring my food; I have to eat.' I took him along with me to the house. The lights were switched on and cooking was started. After some time, he began hurrying us up, 'Bring my food. Bring my food. I have to go.' The food was served and he took a little. It was not that he was hungry himself or needed the food, but it was a way to get the day's cooking started for the people who were hungry. Soon afterwards, I was confirmed in my post."
While narrating these incidents, Ram Narayan said again and again, "This is the Baba I know, and take to be Hanumanji in a human body. How could it be anything other than that?" For me there was no question of believing or not believing him. All I wanted was for him to repeat his stories as often as possible and give us some taste of the joy that was with him.
When we come to Shri Ayodhya Nath Sinha, the retired Assistant Excise Commssioner, it is almost the same story of boundless grace rushing to the door of the helpless devotee, rescuing him from limitless grief and bringing cheer to his heart. Ayodhya Nath had been known to us from the very first time that Babaji gave us darshan in 1955. He was a highly religious person and a great devotee of Baba. Babaji, out of his sheer grace, molded not only his service career, but also his whole life. "I have left my service career and may not always remember how his grace affected it, but I cannot forget what he has given me in my life. Faith in the divine, and devotion to God and guru are life's most precious jewels. They do not come from just anywhere. It is only through divine grace that you get them, and Babaji gave that to me."
He had worked as an excise inspector and was posted at Kasganj. One evening he was returning home after playing tennis. Across the road by the side of some trees and bushes, he saw several persons sitting silently. He suspected they might be engaged in illicit liquor business. He heard someone from the group saying, "He thinks we are smugglers of illicit liquor." This confirmed his suspicion, and as he could not do anything about it, he moved away. The matter ended there.
Sinha narrated, "In 1932, when I visited my friend, Thakur Sultan Singh, in his house, I saw they were all sitting around an old person. The striking thing about him was that he sat wrapped in a blanket although it was not winter. Sultan Singh told me he was Babaji, Neem Karoli Baba. Babaji asked me, 'You don't recognize me? You thought I was engaged in making liquor. If you had had one of your men with you, you would have arrested me.'
I recalled what had occurred many months back and thought how easily we form opinions about people without knowing them. The irony of the whole thing was that it was a good augury and he must have played this trick to test me on how I was discharging my duties."
There were many such experiences indicating how Babaji kept track of the doings of his devotees. In 1947 at the crown of Ayodhya Nath's glory, as an honest and incorruptible officer who resisted all temptation to make easy money while performing his duties, he was posted in Faizabad as Excise Inspector. He received a telegram from Babaji asking him to meet him in Allahabad. When he reached Allahabad the next morning, he found Babaji sitting with several devotees in a room by the side of a lane. He stood there in the lane looking at Babaji, thinking that he might call him. But Babaji kept him waiting, then went to another room inside the house. Ayodhya Nath felt highly agitated at the treatment meted out to him. Babaji had sent for him; he had come for that only. How could Babaji refuse to give him darshan? He was very upset and was thinking of going away, when someone came and told him that Babaji wanted him in his room. When he reached the room, Babaji was talking to the people there. Then he said, raising his voice high, "You have become atheist? You have become atheist? You have left God? You will most certainly be made Assistant Commissioner. Do you think the law made by God can be overturned?"
Hearing Baba shouting like that, everyone in the house rushed to his room to find out what it was all about. Only Ayodhya Nath understood. He understood much more than what was spoken out loud by Baba. He became dumb and stood gazing at him, avoiding everyone's questions. The state of suspense continued for some time, then he was sent home with a devotee for his bath and food. Baba told the devotee that after taking some rest, Ayodhya Nath should go to the station and return to Faizabad that very afternoon. The parting message was, "Jao. Sab thik ho jayega. (Go. Everything will be okay.) You should never lose faith in God."
As Babaji had foretold, Ayodhya Nath indeed returned to Allahabad a few weeks after that to take up his new post as Assistant Excise Commissioner. The post should have come to him long before as his rightful due, but corruption and extraneous pressures barred his right. It was only when Babaji cast his glance on his woes that the path was cleared for him.
Years later Ayodhya Nath narrated to us the full story behind his promotion in 1947. At the time Babaji had sent for him in Allahabad, he was very sad that his long overdue promotion had been denied again, although there was nothing in his service career to disqualify him. This he took to be due to the heedlessness of God, and he lost his faith. He was a religious person and a devotee of Krishna. He blamed Krishna for his misfortune and took down the picture of Krishna hanging on the wall, turning it face down. Babaji's telegram came at that time. Little could he imagine that some unseen hand was going to set right the picture he had turned upside down. Heckling him as he did, Babaji was referring to what he had done to the picture in his house in Faizabad.
When he returned to Faizabad that day, as Babaji had asked him to do, his mind was divided in two. Even though Babaji had given him assurance, the odds were strong that there was not much hope for him. He was resting in his room one day when someone shouted, "Hazur, I come with very happy news, and I should get some reward for this." It was an orderly from the District Magistrate office with a copy of the message sent by the Government Secretary saying, "Ayodhya Nath should proceed immediately to Allahabad to take charge as Assistant Excise Commissioner. Before proceeding, he should hand over his charge of office to the District Magistrate."
"This was good news—the very good news for which I had pined for so long. But it was not an unmixed joy—there was also a feeling of pain, a repentance that brought tears to my eyes. How fragile is our faith in Babaji, who has nothing but love and mercy on us."
Continuing his explanation, Ayodhya Nath recounted that Shri Gobind Ballabh Pant, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1947, had told the Excise Commissioner that he was tired of hearing complaints of bribery and corruption against his department. "People come and complain that nothing gets done without paying some money to the officers in charge of that work. They talk of bribery and corruption being rampant. This must be stopped without any delay." Mentioning the names of two Asistant Commissioners accused by people, he said, "Take away the work under them and give them some honest officer." When the Commissioner said that there was no other Assistant Commissioner to whom the work could be given, Pantji said, "There may not be someone in that rank, but there must be an honest man in your department." The Excise Commissioner replied, "There is one, but he is junior and not selected for that post." Pantji burst out, "I do not want to hear whether he is junior or senior, selected or not. I want an honest officer for the post. Create a post for him, appoint him to it, and then hand over the charge of the work now being done by the others."
This was a secret known only by the Chief Minister and the Commissioner, and Ayodhya Nath came to know of it much afterwards. He used to say that many persons admire him, saying his appointment was a tribute to his honesty, but he takes it as something different and very precious—vindication of God's mercy and the sanctity of his rule. "I had lost my faith in God, and my gracious guru recovered it for me."
I spent much time in the company of these two devotees, hearing them relate whatever was stored in their hearts. I saw their intoxication—God intoxication. Both were old and had been wise and experienced administrators. They learned in their jobs the skillful use of mind and intellect and the proper control of emotions and sentiments. But in talking of Babaji, all that experience was thrown overboard. I cherish their experiences and intoxications, and recalling them always brings a taste of it.
I have been with many other devotees of Babaji who were likewise intoxicated. Some of them were so intoxicated that whenever they started to talk they would get highly agitated, and no systematic, coherent narration could come out of them. One had to be cautious and tap them often to get their story. There were others, no less ardent or enthusiastic in their love and devotion for Babaji, who could contol their emotional pitch. Two of them whom I cannot forget are Akbar Ali Khan and Thakur Jaidev Singh.
Akbar Ali Khan was posted as Governor of Uttar Pradesh in the last years of Babaji's stay at Kainchi. He visited him three times when I was with him and after Baba's samadhi, he invited me to the Nainital government house. We were with him for some time hearing about Baba. The visit was short because of heavy rains.
Akbar Ali Khan used to come to Kainchi to meet with Babaji. His was a busy life, mostly devoted to his official duties. His first visit was short and he talked of his misfortune in not being able to have Baba's darshan for so long. He apologized to Babaji and begged mercy for his lapses. A highly cultured and experienced person asking Baba for forgiveness was very striking, but no less striking was Baba's response to his prayer. With a smile he patted him and said, "It is all right. You have to work first and not run after Baba. The most important thing is to do one's duty. It is all right."
His second visit was important to me—not because of the abuses hurled at me or the temper shown, but for a new revelation. In this period, the big politicians were not coming to Babaji, yet rarely had he been so particular about the cleanliness of his room and temple premises and the controlling of the movements of people around his room. He had the door to the Mothers' rooms locked to keep them inside. Then Babaji told us that the Governor would be coming with a big party. "His son has married a Swiss girl. Her parents, with other members of their family, are coming to meet me and visit your ashram. They are very clever people with keen observations, not like you. So there must not be any wrong impressions given to them because of your foolishness and negligence. You people are so thick-headed that in your curiosity you will rush anywhere and ask all kinds of questions." Cracking a joke, he mentioned the names of two persons, saying, "Dressed in their full glory, they will wait at the gate to present themselves to the visitors."
Babaji went on like this and then he asked me what arrangements were going to be made for their prasad. When I told him that there would be no difficulty, he said, "They will not accept your puris and potatoes. They have doctors who examine the food and they avoid food that might be infected. So your puris will be of no use." When I told him that there were dry fruits, raisins, and sugar candies, he said that would do but I might get more of them.
These things I mention just to emphasize how very vigilant and careful he was about everything around him, big or small, known or unknown to us, going into the minutest of details about what was going to happen. We two were alone together when these talks were going on. After the instructions were over, I asked him whether tea was also to be provided. He had been reclining on his bed while talking, but now he sat up, and shouting loudly, abused me, "What a fool you are! You do all kinds of foolish things and want me also to do wrong things. How can you understand when you have no brains? I cannot imagine how you could teach students. If you talk like that anymore, I shall turn you away."
Some persons had gathered outside the closed doors. I stood silently before him. When Babaji started talking again, gone were the abuses, yelling and shouting. We were blessed with pleasant words, coaxing and cajoling. He sat up and with a modulated voice said, "Dada, you do not understand. You have your brain, you must use it. They are coming to a saint, not to a politician or businessman. When the Governor visits the houses of politicians there are receptions, tea and drink, kalia and kabab and everything. But here they are coming to a saint. They are intelligent people and know what the saints have got and what they can get from them."
This was very important for me. He seldom spoke about himself, certainly not about being a saint. On two other occasions he spoke like this, but they were more or less slips in some unguarded moments. This is the only time when he spoke, and spoke repeatedly in full consciousness, of his being a saint. I stood with my ears and eyes open, hearing and seeing him speak of what a saint is and what he does.
The next day the party of eight arrived, the Governor with his guests followed by a number of officials and dignitaries. They all sat, squatting in Babaji's room on the carpet that was spread there. They talked for almost two hours, with Akbar Ali himself acting as the interpreter. I had to arrange for the prasad and other things. Dry fruits and sugar candy were brought to his room, and the regular prasad of puri and potatoes in baskets were also sent.
When Babaji said they must return, Akbar Ali asked if they might be allowed to stay for some time more, as they were in no hurry to leave. Babaji did not oppose him, only looked outside to the sky and kept silent. The clouds were gathering and were already very thick. The talk continued, but Babaji suddenly said they must leave now. When they left, it began raining, and after a few minutes there came a heavy downpour which continued for some days. In the evening, we heard that a heavy landslide on the road near Bhowali had totally blocked the route.
Several days passed. The rains had stopped, the road was cleared of debris, and traffic resumed as usual. It was on one of these days that Akbar Ali arrived for an unscheduled visit. His guests were gone and he was free. He had come to tell Babaji how he had saved his life along with the lives of his guests. Babaji had just gone in for his bath, but I said I would inform him. He tried to stop me so that Baba would not be disturbed in taking his bath and meal. He said, "I shall wait, and when Babaji comes out of his room we will talk." However, I had to inform Baba. Hearing about his visit, Babaji asked where he was at that time. I told him that he was sitting in the room talking to Kabir and a few others. Baba told me to return to him and he would come after his bath. We listened, spellbound, to what he was saying.
Akbar Ali narrated, "We were all sitting in Babaji's room, listening and enjoying the peace and serenity which charged the whole room. My guests were enjoying themselves so much that they forgot to ask their questions or hear the replies. Sitting before Babaji, we had no awareness of time or thought of leaving, so when he asked us to go, we prayed that we might be allowed to stay a little longer, which was granted. But after some time, he repeated with some force that we must go, and we knew there would be no more extensions. I could not understand why he was so insistent to send us away. This was not in his nature so far as I had known him.
When we left, it was drizzling, but little did we know what was awaiting us. We were caught in a heavy rain on the way, and when we reached the control barrier there was a very heavy landslide. A big stone came rolling down, followed by an avalanche of mud and stones which blocked the whole road totally. When the stone came rolling down, our car had just passed not even one minute before. Had we been late by just a few seconds, we would have been crushed into pulp. He knew all this. Just to save our lives, he had to send us back at the cost of being harsh."
He was very excited as he continued, "People say pir and paigambar, but what is pir and paigambar? He is actually Khuda for me. He is Khuda, he is..." His tone calmed down after that. Babaji arrived, having given him some time to have his say and then cool down. Seeing Babaji before him, Akbar Ali expressed his gratitude again and again. He said, "Baba, we did not understand you, and while going, we were not courteous enough to express what we had received by sitting with you. You saved me and my relations. How can I convey what it all means to us?"
He talked a little more and then Baba told me that he should go now and should be given prasad in a basket to be taken to his house. He left after all this was done. This was his last visit to Kainchi that I know of.
Some days later, Babaji was sitting after his bath with Kishan, Siddhi Didi, and a couple of others. They were talking of Akbar Ali's visit. Someone said that the whole conversation had been caught by Kabir's cassette recorder. Babaji sent for the tape from Kabir and it was played for everyone to hear and enjoy. It had reached the point where Akbar Ali was saying excitedly, "He is actually Khuda for me," when Babaji suddenly said, "Stop. Destroy the tape." Everyone resisted to their utmost, but it had no effect on him. His order was to take the tape out, twist it, and then burn it. So it was burned. That was the end of the tape, and also the end of the words that came from the depth of the devotee's heart, "What is pir and paigambar? He is actually Khuda for me."
We have heard one intoxicated devotee shouting, "He is actually Hanuman," and now we hear from another intoxicated one shouting, "He is actually Khuda." How can we doubt them? I go on questioning myself about it. I also hear other devotees say that they have the same difficulty. For most of us, though, it doesn't make any difference that Babaji is not here any more. How could it? We are not among the precious few who can feel what a loss it truly is. And so it was, that Babaji's most precious gift, coming to us through his accredited spokesmen, was thrown away by us because we could not take it into our hearts.
We come to one more of these accredited ones. Thakur Jaidev Singh, who said, "He is actually Bhagwan—he is actually Bhagwan for me. He saved this body against many perils and sure death. It was his grace, by no stretch of imagination can I claim that I deserved it. The grace from high, from very high, flows without any thought of the deserving or undeserving who are to receive it. It is just the spontaneous kripa (grace) of the great divine."
I had heard about Thakur Jaidev Singh. Babaji often spoke of him as a great devotee. He was a soldier—a real soldier—who obeyed his master without any question or hesitation. This reference was not actually to his army career, where he had acquitted himself very creditably, but to his devotion to Babaji. He obeyed his master's orders till the last days of his life.
In July, 1972, Babaji was sitting before the row of bathrooms in the back of Kainchi ashram. A large number of devotees staying in the ashram, and those few from the outside who were allowed to come when the gates were closed, were sitting around. This was a regular routine when Babaji was at Kainchi. The evening sitting, as it used to be called, extended generally from five to eight in the evening. This was a very enjoyable meeting for the devotees. They would sit with him a long time, which was seldom possible otherwise. Babaji would be in a very relaxed mood. His talks or comments, reminiscences of days gone by or persons met, sallies or abuses, shouting and show of temper, the way some people behaved who came to talk to him or to collect prasad, often illustrated with acting and gestures, were very entertaining. Those staying in the ashrams would not like to miss these sittings, although they knew there may be some dig at them or laughter at their expense.
One day when everybody was enjoying themselves, Babaji pointed to a person, helped by his son and grandsons, entering through the temple gate—a very tall and strong looking man with well-knit limbs and a thick bamboo staff in his hand. Babaji asked me to go help by catching hold of his hand and bringing the man to him. Reaching the man, I stretched out my hand to catch hold of his, but he said, "No more help is needed here." Pointing his hand to Babaji sitting with the devotees, he continued, "I have reached the person from whom all help comes."
Moving a few steps ahead, he laid himself flat on the ground, spreading his hands and legs. He was helped to rise and taken to Baba. He stood there silently looking at Baba with all wonder and amazement in his eyes, as if to show that his journey was blessed and he had received what he was searching for. Babaji asked a few questions—how he was keeping his health, how long the journey took, and such things. His son, standing near him, replied. When they were allowed to sit, Babaji asked me to make arrangements for their stay. Two buckets and lotas, and all such things should be put in the big room with the four beds.
After some time, when they reached their room and got settled, Jaidev Singh started talking about Baba, and between stopping many times to take a breath and various interruptions he said, "Babaji is actually Bhagwan for me. He picked me up from the crowds by his sheer grace, when he was not known to me at all. He saved me from all my perils—even when my death was certain. Whenever I was in difficulty, whether in the barracks or on the battlefield, I used to have his darshan. I had my last darshan two decades back when I retired from service. Since then I was looking for it again from my home in a small village in Rai-Bareilly district."
While we were talking, Babaji shouted for me and I went to him. It was past nine. He was in his room alone and wanted to know about the arrangements that had been made for Jaidev Singh. When he inquired about their food, I told him that they took their food from the kitchen tonight but from the next day they would do their own cooking. He told me that they should be given any and all provisions from the ashram—utensils and anything they might need. When he inquired whether Jaidev Singh said anything about him or his coming here, I reported as I had heard it from him. Babaji listened, sitting silently, as if looking back and recalling in his mind the whole drama enacted over the past decades.
Babaji said, "He is an honest and God-fearing person, very sincere and hard working. His devotion to duty and obedience to his superiors used to be spoken of highly by his officers. He is a true soldier and has been waiting for the darshan which I promised when he retired from service. For all these years he has been waiting for the moment, which has come now. He is not like you people. If you have to wait for something, you start talking that this Baba is nothing—no sadhu at all—he does not keep his word and all that. How different he is from all of you."
When I was going out, Babaji called me, as if he suddenly remembered something. He told me that the pillow that had been given to the old man was very hard, and I should give him my own pillow, which was soft. I came out of his room brooding over what he said. Nothing escaped his attention, not even this. This may not mean much to most of us, but at that moment it was important to me. It was as if to teach us that in serving we have to keep our eyes open.
Jaidev Singh was in the ashram for several days. He would be with Babaji mostly in the afternoon when he was near the bathrooms, sitting with others. For the first few days he was given a seat in the corner, near Babaji's cot, but then he was moved for several days near the stairs of his room from where he could see Baba clearly but not hear him. After several days when Jaidev Singh was about to sit there as usual, Babaji stopped him and asked him to take a seat near him, which happened, as Jaidev Singh later said repeatedly, "because Babaji wanted to save my life."
It was dusk. We were with Babaji before his cot when he told me that I should go to the dharmashala building and ask Ravidas for something. I had to go the stairs where Jaidev Singh had been previously seated. When I reached the stairs, I suddenly stopped. Others might not have been watching, but Babaji's eyes were pinpointed there. As soon as I stopped Babaji asked me, "Dada, what are you looking at? What is there?" Soniji was sent to see what it was all about. Seeing a moving object, he shouted, "It's a very poisonous snake!" He shouted again saying that it was a snake and that it had to be killed. "So be it," said Baba.
Jaidev Singh felt certain that all this was enacted to save his life. When someone said that I myself was also saved from danger, I could not agree. Even though I did not know that there was danger before me, Babaji knew, and he would never expose me to danger.
Jaidev Singh's story was not long or very crowded, but it was spread over a long period of time and over several places, and was very precious and meaningful to him. "I rose from a nondescript soldier to the rank of Subedar Major in my service. That meant a lot to my family and relations. They were all happy about it, but they could not know what was most precious to me—a seat at the feet of one who is actualy Bhagwan." He talked like an intoxicated person while saying these things, but there were no tears. He had been a disciplined soldier and was disciplined in his devotion for his Bhagwan. But the unshed tears could not prevent those sitting with him from being moved.
While he had been posted as a soldier in the early years of service at Fatehgarh, he had his first darshan of Babaji. Babaji used to come to his barracks sometimes, but Jaidev did not know him. Once many soldiers came to see him. Jaidev said, "I was also in the crowd. Looking at me, he took my name and asked me to come closer. He said, 'He is an honest person, a good man, and devoted to God.' Then, taking the name of Ram Singh, who was a Corporal, he said, 'Ram Singh, you give your post to him.'
Ram Singh replied, 'How is that possible, Baba? He is a very junior one.'
Babaji replied, 'That does not matter. He will get it.' I was surprised to hear that. An unknown person and more or less a non-entity in the service, being boosted before his colleagues and officers. But I was more surprised when it actually came about. I was promoted to the post of Corporal within a month.
When Babaji visited, he would sometimes come to my room. Our chief, Colonel McKenna, was a very tough person and would not allow any sadhu or fakir to visit the barracks. There was a time when he would not even allow any soldier to visit the Hanuman temple outside the army compound, but a softening of his harsh attitude came about due to an encounter he had with an itinerant sadhu who came and stayed by the side of a well near the Hanuman temple. The municipal road passed by the temple, separating the military area from the civil area of town, and the soldiers openly or stealthily visited him. The best way to stop that was to drive the sadhu away from that area. Facing the sadhu one day, the Colonel ordered him to leave the place. The sadhu refused to do that. Others who were standing there said it was municipal land, not army land. Colonel McKenna's reply was to take up his whip and strike the sadhu for his audacity and disobedience to his order, which was a most disagreeable thing to an army chief.
Seeing him beaten, many persons protested, but the sadhu was indifferent. After taking a few lashes, the sadhu just laughed and said, 'Your lashes are directed to my back, but they are actually falling on the back of your son, who is lying dead in your house in England.' The Colonel might not have fully believed a crazy mendicant, but in his heart as a father he was frightened, and he returned to his office."
Jaidev Singh said this had happened long before his posting there, but the story was still ripe in the mouths of the soldiers. No one knew who that baba was, but some of Babaji's devotees believed that he was that sadhu because Col. McKenna toned down his harshness toward sadhus and had Babaji's darshan many times. Babaji one day told him that he would retire as a General. McKenna said that was unthinkable and he would never be a general. Babaji's reply was the usual one: "It is certain that you will be a General." On his promotion to General, he became an ardent devotee.
But to return to our story, when Babaji was coming to Jaidev Singh's room, a complaint was made to Colonel McKenna. The Colonel rebuked the person complaining against a sadhu and sent for Jaidev Singh, asking about the sadhu who visited him in his room. When Jaidev Singh took the name of Babaji, the Colonel sat silently for a minute and then said, "Henceforth when he comes, give him milk on my behalf." Babaji also visited the Colonel afterwards, and once he was seen sitting on the bed with the Colonel sitting below. The Colonel had become a different person in regard to his treatment of sadhus and religious persons. Babaji rewarded him for that.
Jaidev Singh was posted at the front in several countries during his army career. While fighting in the Middle East there was always danger facing him. In these situations, he would often see Babaji moving around, giving him the strength and courage to discharge his duties as the true soldier he was. "He came at the times when I needed him most. Once the situation was very critical, bombs were coming from the enemy planes in every direction; most of the soldiers in our battalion were dead or left wounded. I had lost all hope of life and was counting myself with the dead. But a miracle happened! I saw Babaji assuring me of my safety, and I returned alive. People may believe or disbelieve it, but that does not make any difference to me. The more I faced the threats in my life and came out of them safely, the more I took them as due to his grace, and my faith in him as my Bhagwan went on growing. What Bhagwan does for his devotee is known to him only. Why should I bother to make others believe me?"
At his retirement, Babaji told Jaidev Singh that he would have darshan again. He had been waiting for that moment with patience and expectation. The moment had now come and he was before his God. There was nothing more to ask for. He had everything. This came at a time when Babaji was sending for some of his old devotees, giving them the last darshan in his body. After Babaji left Kainchi, there was nothing to keep him and Jaidev Singh returned to his village. He had stayed at home patiently waiting for the promised darshan, which he now had to his full satisfaction. When he left, he took with him Babaji's promise of darshan again. We may speculate about how and when it was to come about, but Jaidev Singh left with full confidence and is certainly waiting patiently for his darshan.
Strange are the ways of devotees. Their exuberant love, devotion to their masters, their unusual behavior in expressing their master's gifts to them, and the raising of their gracious master to the status of a divine being or God, are all no doubt repugnant to our common sense or mind. But true devotees are not interested in what we think of them and are not affected by our comments. They enjoy the ecstasy of their devotion to the one they call Khuda or Bhagwan and the bliss that flows from there.
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