Sunday, June 14, 2009



This is not an imaginary story. This is a narration of a life of a devoted disciple whose love, humility, faith, surrender, service and submission to his Master was absolute and total. It is an inspirational legend, which is narrated in religious discourses time and again, in one form or the other. The soul stirs, heart wrings and tears melt as the life and time of Bhai Manjh unfolds with Guru Arjan Dev Ji(1563-1606 AD),---fifth Guru in the lineage of Guru Nanak. It is said that it was after this sacred and revered relationship between Murid (disciple) and Murshid (Master) that the disciples in Kalyug ( Iron Age) have been blessed that they will not be put to any test for assessing their faith and trust for their Masters. Even if it is not true, but after a momentary reminiscence of what transpired between Bhai Manjh and Guru Arjan Dev Ji, one is touched and moved by the intensity and candidness of their relationship that one concludes that it must be a fact, for no ordinary or extraordinary mortal can pass the trial of trust if any Master decides to assess the spiritual resilience of any disciple. In some rare cases elsewhere, Masters and their noble disciples may have shared such a bond of intense spiritual intimacy, but this is an episode well recorded in history and therefore worth recounting. Let this be the cherished goal of all sincere disciples to attain such an attitude of humility and service to one’s Guru.

The real name of Bhai Manjh was Teertha and he belonged to Manjh clan of erstwhile Panjab. A Muslim by birth, he was a follower of a prominent Muslim sect ‘ SAKHEE SARVAR’, whose shrines still exist in Pakistan. He was respected and loved by all the local people of this sect and commanded a large following as a leader of this sect. In one of his visits to Amritsar, he heard the discourse of Guru Arjan Dev Ji on Nam Bhakti. The teachings of Gurmat stirred his psyche that he begged for Nam. The Guru advised him that he might seriously rethink over his decision as he was a powerful leader of a Muslim sect and that his followers might also disown him. He could also face innumerable adversities in his life by switching to the path of Nam bhakti. But Teertha chose to become a disciple of the Guru and he was blessed with Nam. Due to his past association with Manjh clan, he renamed himself as Bhai Manjh.

As the news of Bhai Manjh being a disciple of the Guru spread, his followers abandoned him, his cattle died, he lost his status as head of many villages and poverty pounced upon him. Soon he became a pauper who owed a lot of money to others. His wife had to work as a maid in the house of a landlord for earning their living. In such a state of abject misery and poverty, he decided to quit the village and proceed to Amritsar with his daughter for ‘seva’ in Guru’s community kitchen called ‘Langar’. Bhai Manjh daily cut and carried wood for the langar, cleaned the dishes, served the visiting ‘sangat’ and did any other ‘seva’ he could find. The Guru too heard of Bhai Manjh's seva. He summoned Bhai Manjh to come to meet him in a congregation. Guru Arjan asked, "Bhai Manjh, where do you eat?" Bhai Manjh replied, "Satguru, I eat from your langar…" Guru then said, "Well then, your ‘seva’ or service is nothing but only a reciprocal wage-labour relationship of give and take? What type of ‘seva’ is this?”

Bhai Manjh got the message loud and clear--- of essentiality of living on one’s own earnings. He bowed his head and said, ”May the Guru grant me the strength to abide by his orders”. He immediately left the premises of the Guru. He then engaged himself in the profession of a woodcutter. He would daily cut three bundles of wood---one for the langar seva, second for selling in the market and the third for his home which he established in a near by village. He cooked and ate his own food at home. Any profit that he would earn by selling the wood, he dispensed that for charitable purposes for the institution of his Master.

His daughter would often question the rationale of the Guru for treating him in a disparaging manner. He would always reply, “ Guru is all merciful. And he knows the best.” After a few months Guru Arjan Dev Ji asked him, “You were a man of means, of wealth, assets and affluence before you chose to be my devotee and now you are beset with poverty. You can leave me if you so wish.” Bhai Manjh replied, “Worldly wealth is temporal which comes and goes. Incomparable is this material stuff to the true treasure of Nam, with whom I have been blessed by you. Neither a thief nor a king can claim or seize it. Please bless me with your refuge and protection, so that I might live in your will”. Guru Arjan gave his blessings to Bhai Manjh and moved on.

One day when Guru Arjan Dev Ji was giving his daily discourse in the morning to his ‘sangat’, a person whispered in his ears. It is said that the entire body of the Guru shook as if hit by a bolt and he left the stage barefooted. There was commotion in the entire congregation. The news he received was that Bhai Manjh when carrying the bundle of wood on his head for seva was struck by a strong storm on the way. In a state of poor visibility he fell in a deep well in the early hours of morning. He was calling for help to be pulled out. This was what upset the Guru and he along with his disciples ran to save Bhai Manjh.

A long rope was thrown for Bhai Manjh so that he could extract himself from the well. The disciples saw that despite being deep inside the well, he was trying to keep himself afloat with the bundle of wood on his head. He pleaded that his helpers might not worry about him; let the bundle of wood be pulled out first so that it did not become excessively wet and could be used for the community kitchen. So, the wood was first brought out of the well and thereafter Bhai Manjh climbed out with the help of rope

Guru Arjan Dev Ji was standing before him when he came out of the well. The Guru uttered, “ Bhai you have been through so much of misery and pain, lost your position, wealth, worldly honour and respect, so much so that your wife is serving as a maid. What benefit you have derived by following me and path of Nam bhakti?” A noble soul and determined devotee as he was, he fell down on the feet of his Master, with tears rolling down, and voice choked with love and emotions, he said, “ When I have gained you Oh my Satguru, how can there be any loss”? Hearing this the Guru embraced Bhai Manjh.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji was so pleased with his sentiments that he said that “the ‘seva’ of Bhai Manjh has been accepted in the Divine court and that he may ask for anything that he wants”?

Bhai Manjh knelt and humbly pleaded, “My only submission is that in this age of Kalyug (Iron Age), the disciples may not be put to such a harsh trials to test the faith in the Master as none may have the stamina and strength to stand up to such difficult situations in life”.

Guru Arjan Dev, “So be it. Manjh is the darling of the Guru and the Guru is the beloved of Manjh. Manjh will be ferried across the ocean of illusion by the power of Nam. And I bless your worldly comforts too will be restored”.

Bhai Manjh was given the charge of preaching Gurmat in Doaba area of Panjab--- as an acknowledgement of his religious and spiritual leadership, which he enjoyed when he was the leader of Sakhee Sarvar. The landlord in whose house his wife was serving was so impressed by her dedication and sincerity that he made her as his sister and gave her all his wealth.

The Guru thus restored the “swarth” and “parmarth”----both the material and mystic aspects—of Bhai Manjh and his seva became an “inspiration” for others to emulate. Past, present and future generations of the devotees of the Perfect Masters will remain indebted to him for the Divine relief of not being put through any tests.

The deeper meaning of this narration must be understood and imbibed. This historical account defines the path and life style of a disciple, which must be adhered under the guidance and grace of the Master for spiritual salvation. The path is Nam Bhakti. The prime requirement of this path is that one must get detached from the mindset of the past. As one becomes ‘mentally dis-possessed’ by material paraphernalia, the mind pursues the path of seva of the Master. The seva should be such that it is in accordance with the wishes and commands of the Master. The disciple must live on one own earnings and wages be earned by honest means. The devotee may never forget or dilute or deter from the real seva of Nam during ups and downs of life and should keep himself ‘afloat’ by having faith and trust in his Mentor. It is then the Master “pulls” the disciple from the bottomless “well” of cosmic illusion by giving “rope” of his love and grace. When the disciple climbs out of ‘worldly well’, and Master accepts his ‘seva’, he embraces him---makes the soul merge with the spiritual Master. It is in this state of oneness that the spiritual treasure is ‘restored’ to the disciple.



In ancient times, a King in a state of Panjab was very fond of having the best horses in his stable. He liked to possess horses of various breeds as a hobby and also to keep them in his cavalry for any future battles. Every year he would invite prominent traders of horses from distant places and negotiate the deals for the best of the stallions. The king was well versed in the lineage and pedigree of this animal and was extremely careful and skillful in bargaining with traders.

Once, a horse-trader bought five horses of different lineage. He offered them to king at various prices varying from 1000 trinkets of gold to 100000 trinkets of gold. The king was amazed that though the horses looked alike and similar, why the merchant was quoting 100000 gold units for the best one. He looked closely and intensely at the horse, which the merchant had declared the most precious and discovered that this particular horse was blind from one eye. (In Panjabi one-eyed person is called KANA, and horse is called GHODA.). He asked the trader the rationale for such a huge premium for one-eyed horse (KANA GHODA), while demanding lower compensation for other healthy and strong steeds.

“This horse belongs to a rare pedigree called “TEJI”(means Fast) ,that ensures that the rider of this horse if encircled or entrapped by the enemies in a battlefield, will be whisked away to safety—no matter what their strength or might may be”, answered the merchant. The king said that he had heard of “TEJI” pedigree, but this is a KANA GHODA (one eyed horse) and demand of hefty sum is very unreasonable. The merchant refused to make the bargain at a lower price and insisted that the price is for brand equity of the “TEJI” pedigree and not for merely the looks of the stallion. “What could be more precious than the life, oh King” he said. Finally, the King thought over and bought the horse, with a remorse that he had been overcharged for this TEJI GHODA.

The King formally named the horse as KANA GHODA, instead of TEJI GHODA. He nursed a grudge against the mare for his high value and denied him a good stable. He would order his helpers to bring KANA GHODA at night and would ride with tight straddle and stirrup. He would make a fun of the horse for his handicap. The ministers and soldiers too would insult the horse for being one eyed. The horse was immensely hurt and upset with the attitude of the King and his people. He looked for an opportunity for revenge. He decided to wait for an appropriate time.

After a year or so, the King was compelled to go to battlefield to fight with a neighborly state. It was a full blown war with the enemy. The rival forces surrounded the King, sitting on KANA GHODA. His life was in a state of grave danger. KANA GHODA wanted to avenge the abuses of his personal ill treatments. KANA GHODA was tempted to dump the King in the battlefield. The King would be killed, he thought, and he would be free to lead an honorable life after his departure.

At that point of time, a thought flashed across his mind----that inspite of being one eyed, he belonged to a noble “TEJI” pedigree. He is avowed to ensure that no harm comes to the rider at the time of peril. If the enemy kills the King, “TEJI” pedigree will be stained and blemished. The nobility and reverence of “TEJI” community will be perpetually lost; no one will pay the price for the “purity of breed”of his ancestry. This thought prompted him to save the King and he played the trick to escape out of the ring of the enemy. The King got a sigh of relief. He padded him with affection for saving his life. And the horse earned gratitude of lifetime from the King. Thereafter the King treated him with love and respect.

MORAL--- We, Satsangis have a good pedigree. Like KANA GHODA, we have our own handicaps and shortcomings. Irrespective of karmic treatment meted out to us in this world, our actions and responses should be such that it should bring no taint or blame on the community of Satsangis

Saturday, June 13, 2009


TAKEN IN 2003.


My Helplessness

Hazur Maharaj Ji is my Master. I am privileged to have been accepted by Him. He put me on the path of Bhajan and Simran. He lighted the torch of Divine love in my heart. He is the Lord God to whom I should be devoted all the time.

Baba Ji says that it is through daily Bhajan and Simran and His constant rememberance that we must honor Him every moment. I am very conscious that I must make sincere efforts in doing what is required of me. But I finally fail to abide by His instructions. I plead my helplessness….

Maharaj Ji says that He is very near and dear to all of us all the time. He assures us that He is never far from us. I sometimes feel that He is within me. But sometimes that feeling evades me. There is a vacuum and void in my inner being. He appears to be someone very remote to whom I can never meet. Helpless I am….

He knows what is best for me. I know He is the Master of my destiny. But still I want things to be contrived as per my wishes and desires. I pray to Him to change situations for my convenencies. I feel sad if He does not listen to my demands. I pray for strength and patience for going through His Will. Mind is not at peace during those turbulent times. Helpless I am….

Something in me appears to have changed. The conventional values of this society do not appeal me. Misfit I am with the people around me - a square peg in the round hole. An attitude of reclusiveness bothers me. My spiritual yearning has not yielded any results. I neither belong to this world nor the other that I cherish. Lost I am in a state of helplessness…

I try to abide by the vows of initiations. Many times my will power crumbles. I resolve not to fall prey to infatuations of mind and matter. I repeat those mistakes. I seek Master’s forgiveness again and again. Ashamed and helpless I am….

Baba Ji very graciously gives Satsang. He also gives His darshan. But I am not focused on Him. Even in weekly Satsangs, mind takes its own flights of fancies. I regret that I am not able to pay attention to even the precious words of Saints. I remain lost in the confusion of this world and daily life. Regrettably helpless I am….

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by momentary gratitude for Hazur and Baba Ji for having taken this worthless creature under His benign fold. He has maintained a veil on sins and vices of a person who is not honorable in conduct and conviction. Helpless I am…. can just beg for His mercy and grace.

Master, make me worthy of thee. Master, make me worthy of thee. I would like to become worthy of thee. This is the prayer of my soul.The words of Gurbani hit my heart—RAJ NO CHAHOON, MUKT NA CHAHOON, MAN PREET CHARN KAMLA RE. “Neither Imperial Sovereignty, nor Mukti do I need. For thy Lotus feet do I pray, my Master.



We may be rich and famous but mega debtors we are. It is not a financial or a monetary liability but a very subtle debt which is debited the moment we are born as human beings. The arrears need to be squared off during this life time through Dharma, the principle of righteousness as recorded in all religious scriptures.
Adi Granth mentions four types of debts (karza or rinn in Hindi) that a man must settle in life---
Pitri Rinn--- the debt that is due to parents. As small children we are weaklings—need attention and support all time. We are reared by our parents with love and affection. As we grow up and turn out to be stronger, parents age and become weak. We are therefore obliged to look after them in all possible ways and attend to their welfare in old age. Even if a person gives charities of million of dollars, but neglects old parents and fails to shower love and affection upon them---Pitri debt is not paid off.
Dev Rinn—the debt to be paid to gods. The gods mean the five elements of Nature; the life sustaining forces—water, air, fire, earth, ether and all that is edible—even ghee (concentrated butter) and salt. They are the energies of life in this world and it becomes obligatory upon all men that they contribute to the welfare of this material plane, including one’s family and society, by moral integrity and sense of discrimination. All the positive contribution that is made in this world by all of us means mitigation of debit of Dev Rinn.
Guru Rinn—the debt we owe to Master who leads us to the path of spirituality. In this life riddled with Maya and illusion, Master leads us from spiritual darkness to enlighenment. We have to pay off this debt by doing Bhajan and Simran and living a life as instructed by Him. Should we fail to do so we cannot escape cycle of transmigration. Till the cycle of birth and death does not terminate, the process of accumulation of parental debt and godly liabilities cannot end.
Says Sahjo Bai--- about greatness of Guru, the Master---
“Satguru is the only honor (credit balance) of the disciple. Never leave His door steps even if He reprimands hundred thousand times, says Sahjo. Let this be the fundamental principle enshrined in disciple’s life”.
Brham Rinn--- debt owed to Lord. At birth, life is purity personified and full of innocence. After childhood--- when we acquire worldly knowledge, power of reasoning and logic, manipulation of intellect and mind--- we get debased from the spiritual point of view. The life of spotlessness gets spotted. Debt to Lord is created. This can be reimbursed by being pure again. Unless one acquires the same state of nobility as existed from the primordial source, he cannot be allowed to enter the Divine Court. Commenting on life of Kabir Sahib, his disciple Dharm Das wrote---
“Kabir wore the body as a white sheet with extreme care and caution. Many men, Rishis(sages) and Munnis( who vowed silence for larger part of life for miraculous powers) also adorned the body as a white piece of cloth but smudged it badly. Kabir, the devotee, wore this white sheet and abandoned it in a way that it remained spotlessly clean”.
It is through the nam of Guru that spiritual sheet can be made spotless. Arrears to Lord can be repaid by nam Bhakti blessed by Guru. That is why all mystic recognize Guru higher than the Lord as through Him only the debt to Lord can be settled.

Why do we remember HIM?

In all religious and spiritual discourses, it is emphasized that God must be remembered all the time as He is the very basis of our existence, our provider and nourisher and also the ultimate redeemer. Generally we pray to Him for material needs and then forget Him, till we need Him again for our wishes and wants. We also feel that He subjects us to rewards and punishment and therefore we fear Him too. Under all circumstances whether we pray for selfish or self less reasons -- He humbly accepts our devotion. Hazur often remarked that “He is a humble Giver and we are proud beggars”.
There are some other reasons that a man must make an effort to feel the presence of the Lord all the time because it makes him a better human being too. Babaji says man is also called a ‘human being’---that is to become human or be a human. The word ‘Human’ is a combination of Hu + Man. Hu means HE or HIM in Persian---that is why BAHU (Panjabi mystic Hazrat Sultan Bahu) implies Ba+ Hu---WITH HIM. The word ‘human’ has to be understood as “His Man”—the one who is like Him.
Alas, in present day and age that likeness has diminished and most of us are operating at sub-human plane---a plane that is above animals and below humans. Remembering Him should be a natural action (and not an effort) and a prayer, so that He might raise our level of consciousness to the level of ‘humans.’
Hazur used to give an example of the child holding the hand of the father in a fair. Little does the child realize that entire fun of the fair is because of the father. Father is the power that the ‘child’ invisibly experiences when he is with Him. The fair of life turns meaningless the moment ‘child’ is not able to see or feel his Heavenly Father. This world is a very dark, harsh and lonely habitat, if we don’t hold His hand.
In daily life, man seeks empowerment by computers, cell phones, aero planes and automobiles, TV etc. Call it dependence of some sort but all such devices significantly enhance the physical, mental and material capabilities of man. By being attuned to the Lord, man enhances his superior consciousness and acquires greater spiritual strength. Let it not be understood that His remembrance leads to mitigation of adversities in life, but it definitely ensures that all such situations are endured with patience and calmness. It has an analgesic and curative effect—the pain is there but not felt and with the passage of time the sickness goes away or is controlled within livable parameters. This enables man to live through the ups and downs of life relatively easier and without ruffling the mental balance.
Another aspect is that God represents all that is true, pure, noble, good, loving, compassionate, forgiving, fearless, foe-less. Hazur used to say that by doing His simran or being in His remembrance all noble qualities emerge just like cream floats on the surface of the milk. Man very ambitiously seeks perfection in his daily conduct through self improvisation. The more man has sought self reformation by material means or ritualism, the more he has degenerated his consciousness and capabilities. By focusing on the path of material acquisitions or asceticism, he subordinates himself to the five perversions of the mind and that creates consequential sufferings. God is manifestation of noble attributes and therefore His constant remembrance leads to emulation of such traits. The adage that you become what you think fits very appropriately. When God becomes man’s mental companion, man’s thought and conduct receive the same noble vibrations that emanate from the Supreme Lord. This makes him a good human being.
A question was posed to Hazur that Gurbani mentions that Guru can make men as angels in no time. What actually does it mean?
Balihārī gur āpṇė ḏi­uhāṛī saḏ vār. A hundred times a day, I am a sacrifice to my Guru;
Jin māṇas ṯė ḏėvṯė kī­ė karaṯ na lāgī vār. He made angels out of men, without delay.
His reply was—‘The moment a man becomes a ‘man’ it does not take even a second to make him in an angel’.
All that is seen, cherished and imagined is subject to change and death. And all that is seen, cherished and imagined is also riddled with opposites. Beauty, wealth, power—the three prime infatuations and illusions of mind--- culminate into change, misery, greed, envy, lust and violence. God is unchangeable and beyond the domain of come and go. And God has no opposites. Absence of opposites mean absence of good and bad---no comparisons, no rewards or punishments, no hell or heaven, neither logic nor reason. Briefly, the concept of change, duality and ego disappears. The principle of universal Oneness is known and realized. Then the mutual differences and discords disappear. Man can then love one and all without any sense of division or multiplicity.
His remembrance makes us mentally resilient, noble qualities naturally brew and the principle of oneness and universal love is imbibed. That is why in all religious and spiritual discourses, it is emphasized that God must be remembered every moment and with every breath.



Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj, the Sufi Mystic, in a trance of Divine intoxication, wandered into the central market place of the city surrounded by his followers and shouted the words that were deepest in his heart ana’l-haqq - I am the law, I am God! “I am Reality” or as the Vedas and Upanishads say “Aham Brhamasmi” (I am the Braham). The Sufis says Mansur spoke those words in the state of Fana Fillah--a state where a Sufi annihilates his ego self and is attuned with God.

His statement was of course considered blasphemous by the then King, though he was preaching to the masses that God could be discovered within one’s own heart. He was immediately prisoned as his utterings were in contravention to the Islamic law of ‘Sharia’

According to the legend, Mansur’s disciples were allowed to speak to him as he lay in his prison cell and asked him for his last words. He told them, "The only thing that is important is love." They asked him, “What is Love”. He answered: “You will see it today and tomorrow and the dayafter tomorrow.” And that day his hands and feet were cut off, and the next day they put him on the gallows and burnt, and the third day they gave his ashes to the wind.
In Love all is meant to be lost---this is the message of Mansur.Love in mystic terminology means annihilation of the self or merging of self with the real SELF—the essence of the Beloved. Jesus went the same way, the fifth master of the Sikhs Guru Arjan Dev and the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Bhagat Pralhad are just a few names in mystic history that one can recall as an paradigm of “what is Love”. There could be many more models of such love. Perhaps history lacks record or cannot appreciate the ecstasy of Divine Love.