II / v – Part II
The Torch Bearer
An ever-increasing number of visitors flocked to His hut at Beas, and His words to Bibi Rukko –
Here shall rise one day an ever-growing city and many a house and bungalow shall be built –
and no less the words of God-intoxicated Kahan at whom the people had laughed –
I collect these bricks for the town that shall here be built
began, at last, to seem meaningful.
Baba Ji spent the greater part of His time at Beas but often went on tour to neighbouring areas or to to towns farther off, to minister to the Spiritual Needs of His votaries.
Once when He was at Ambala, at the behest of some disciples, Hukam Singh, a friend of His devoted disciple Moti Ram, a tailor who worked for the British regiment stationed there, applied for initiation.
Baba Ji refused to grant his request. Hukam Singh approached his friend, who in turn approached Baba Ji, but to no avail.
He is not yet fit for the Path,
the Sage observed, but Moti Ram was not to be put off. He pleaded again and again for the case of his friend.
I have told you before, his karmas don’t permit it. So what can I do in the matter?
– Holy One, all the more reason You should take pity on him, for if You don’t, then who will?
Moti Ram, do not press me further. I would rather initiate four hundred others than this friend of yours.
A Saint cannot refuse a devoted disciple for long and would even pass through fire for his sake. When Moti Ram repeatedly pressed, He gave way, adding:
But as soon as I have initiated your friend, I shall not spend another moment here, but proceed straight home.
True to His word, Baba Ji, as soon as the instructions were over, packed His scanty belongings and entrained for Beas.
Whoever expressed a desire to follow Him there was told to come two weeks later. On reaching His hut, Baba Ji lay down in bed and when local visitors came to see Him, they were in consternation for they found Him in the grip of a deadly fever. Doctors and medicines were sent for but Baba Ji would take nothing. About a fortnight later the fever subsided and when Moti Ram received the news, he hastened to see Him and begged forgiveness:
Sir, if only I had known what it was to mean for you, I would not, for the kingdom of three worlds, have pressed to initiate my friend.
Baba Ji was in a communicative mood and revealed:
So heavy were the karmas of Hukam Singh that but for the intercession he would, for the next seven lives, have passed through the most trying sufferings and ordeals.
Moti Ram, humbly thanked Him for His unfathomable Grace but Baba Ji, true to His innate humility, simply replied:
Such was the will of the Lord.
The Grace of Baba Ji radiated like the life-giving sun to those that came in touch with Him. Baba Sawan Singh, however, as we have already seen, was the object of His special adoration.
The years from 1894 to 1903 were marked by regular visits to Beas by Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj which were occasionally returned by Baba Ji.
The Sage called His favourite disciple by the name of 'Babu Ji.' He had told Bibi Rukko that the handsome government officer would one day be His successor.
On one occasion, while in an extraordinarily gracious mood, He turned to His Gurumukh and remarked:
You and I have come for the good of mankind.
Sawan Singh replied,
You, of course, have come for humanity’s uplift, but I myself am only an erring mortal.
Baba Ji repeated what He had said and Sawan Singh made the same reply. Baba Ji then, raising His eyebrows, said in a louder tone:
Babu Ji, I am speaking to you. We both have come for the good of mankind.
Sawan Singh sat mute and silent.
At another time the Beas Saint told His disciples:
I have had to toil very hard for my attainment, yet have kept my treasures locked and have never displayed them. But my labours shall bear fruit and He Who shall inherit my mantle shall be known far and wide.
The days passed by and Beas became a luminous centre on the Spiritual Map of the world.
He Who had never agreed to the building of halls and houses, at the instance of His beloved Babu Ji finally relented, and a well was sunk and a Satsang hall built during His last years.
Why erect any buildings here when the river may wash them off?
He had protested, but Sawan Singh was not to be dissuaded.
Even if You can deliver a single discourse, and the structure collapses immediately after, I will consider my labours richly rewarded.
Meanwhile, the last days of the Jat-Guru, as He humorously styled Himself, were drawing to a close. Six months before His death, He had told His disciples of the approaching end. On hearing of the passing away of Karam Singh of Attock, He had remarked:
I used to meet him at Delhi. A great soul indeed! But he will have to be born once again for full liberation, not having practised Naam in this life. Well, well, my work is also drawing to a close and I, too, shall soon be gone.
The last days saw many pilgrims at Beas. The Sage Who once had passed both night and day lost in meditation was now day and night in the service of His devotees. He would hardly rest for three or four hours, spending the rest of the day in meeting those who sought Him out, attending to their problems and goading them to greater and even greater Spiritual Effort. The gates of Divine Grace were flung open and those that sat by Him in His room during the days immediately preceding His departure would be inwardly buoyed up and wrapped in samadhi.
The construction of the Satsang hall had by now been completed, and everyone pressed Baba Ji to deliver a discourse.
He, however, remonstrated.
No, no; the will of God is otherwise. He Who is to succeed me shall address you there.
Bibi Rukko was equally adamant:
We shall of course hear Him when His time comes, but now while You are here, let us have the benefit of Your presence.
But Baba Ji insisted:
The will of God is otherwise. Besides, I wish Babu Ji to discourse to all present during my own lifetime so that there should be no disputes later.
But the audience had gathered and pleaded that He Himself should speak. Bibi Rukko begged and implored and He at last moved forward. But after climbing a step or two, He once again stopped and repeated what He had said. To the amazement of all who entered the Satsang hall, Baba Ji’s Gurumukh son, Hazur Sawan Singh Ji, was seen sitting at the dais (platform).
The last day finally arrived. All the close disciples stood by in anxious expectation.
It was the 29th of December 1903, and a cold and piercing breeze blew over from the waters of the Beas. Baba Ji seemed to be waiting, and cast restless glances at the door. At last a police officer arrived and sought for initiation.
It is for you I have been waiting,
replied the Great Saint, and without further ado began explaining the theory and practice of the Surat Shabd Yoga. Soon after the instructions were over, He lay down and, closing His eyes, cast off this muddy vesture of decay.
Thus passed away one of the Greatest of modern Saints, Whose life was a lesson in humility and Love. He had studied at no schools or universities, but had delved deep into the book of life. He had read as a child the scriptures of many a faith and had early practised many sadhans or Spiritual Exercises.
By the age of eighteen, when other men have hardly attained mental maturity, He had already won the crown of life denied to the most rigorous of yogis and the most industrious of learned men. And yet the rest of His years were passed in the most perfect humility, His only ambition being to serve His Master and carry His message as best as He could.
In His last recorded words He is reported to have said:
All my life I have sought only to serve my Master and now whatever work He had to accomplish through this poor physical frame is over,
and His very last hour was spent in this service. Baba Jaimal Singh Ji more than exemplified what He had once written to His future successor,
Saints are born not for Themselves, but for the liberation of mankind.
He spoke from Inner Experience and not from books, and He initiated about three thousand souls; while the number of those who unconsciously benefited by His influence is beyond enumeration. Could one discover another so selfless, so ready to suffer vicariously for the sins of others, so boundless in his love, and so unconcerned with outer differences of sects and creeds?
If one searched one’s memory, there was perhaps one name that came most readily to mind: that of Nanak.
And was it a mere coincidence that the Soldier Saint of Beas was born in the very district (Gurdaspur) in which the Great medieval Saint – according to His constant companion and biographer Bhai Bala – had prophesied He would reappear in some future age in a Jat home?
Baba Ji’s disciples did not fail to note the resemblance even during His lifetime and once questioned Him on the subject. The Sage smiled mysteriously and dismissed the question.
But a few minutes later, He casually remarked:
If we spirits were to speak our minds, who would allow us a moment’s rest and who would spare our skins?