Book Review

‘Godman’ reprinted, by Kirpal Singh. Delhi: Ruhani Satsang, second edition 1971; 192 and xvi pages, seven photographs. Paperback, $2.00

For twenty-four short, beautiful, inspiring years, it was my blessing to be under the Love, guidance, and protection of a Godman, Supreme Master Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj. […]

So begins one of the most remarkable and unique books in all devotional literature. In the time of His discipleship, under the instructions and inspiration of His own Master, the Living Master Kirpal Singh Ji put together what is probably the most complete and accurate description of the Godman and His mission ever written. As clearly as words allow, the origin, nature and mission of the Masters of the Highest Order is given, and the relevant sayings of the Masters of all traditions are amply quoted. On all levels the book sings forth as a work of full devotion – of the perfect disciple for the Perfect Master.

A Master-Soul in human form cannot be rightly comprehended. He is a limitless ocean of Sat or Truth – ever the same from the beginning of creation and from age to age.

Weaving beautifully the testimony of the Realised Souls, the Master builds a simple and lucid picture of the nature of God and Godman. For those truth-seekers bound to the scriptures, past Masters, self-effort, etc., evidence is given from almost every conceivable angle to show the absolute need of a Living Master. Indeed, we are shown that in almost every case a careful study of these very scriptures and past Masters supports this very point.

The deeper we go into the book, the deeper the Godman is revealed. The various grades of attainment of Masters are discussed from the highest level. So also the various duties of the Godman – not only as Guru on the physical plane, but also as Guru Dev on the astral and causal planes, and Satguru working in the Region of Truth –, and the Master’s relationship with the disciple as the student progresses from plane to plane.

Here and there the Master reveals something of the indescribable beauty in the transcendental nature of the Godman, as He travels about this dark world to share the gift of God with us:

In this world, He lives just like any other individual. Although in the world, He is not of the world. He loves all people much more than parents love their children. He knows but looks beyond our short-comings and smilingly helps us to overcome them. Full of compassion, Christ-like, with sore and bruised feet, the Son of Man ceaselessly goes about with insatiable hunger in His soul, passionately seeking to recover and retrieve that which is lost: lost man, his brother, lost soul.

There are chapters full of illumination, such as ‘The Nature of Oneness,’ and there are deeply moving chapters such as ‘The Solicitude of the Master,’ where we find passage upon passage that strike deep to the heart:

Satguru is the Real Friend of the disciple. He saves him from tense and hopeless situations. He comes to his aid when he has despaired of all hope and relief, and is surrounded by seemingly powerful forces arrayed against him. From time to time the disciple feels the overpowering influence of the Master working for his good. At times He works in ways that are difficult for the disciple to understand. Just as a mother waits in the early morning hours for her sleeping child to awaken, in the same way, even more anxiously, the Master looks forward wistfully to the time when His disciple, steeped in deep ignorance born of matter and mind, will raise his head, look towards Him and gladden His heart.

For the True Seekers there is described the life and conduct of a Perfect Master, His influence on the world and on the disciple, something of the physical form of the Master, and how one may find and know a Perfect Master.

Like an arrow flying to the target, the book leads inevitably to the final chapters where, with the importance of the Godman brought home, the way of self-surrender and the need for obedience to the Master’s words are revealed. So simply is the way of self-surrender explained here – that way so difficult to explain, yet so vital that its significance cannot be overemphasised. Side by side the way of Spiritual Discipline is considered and compared:

Self-surrender is not an easy task. To accomplish it, one has to recede back to the position of an innocent child. It means an entire involution, a complete metamorphosis, supplanting one’s own individuality. It is the path of self-abnegation, which not everyone can take. On the other hand, the Path of Spiritual Discipline is comparatively easy. Self-effort can be tried by anyone in order to achieve Spiritual Advancement.

It is, no doubt, a long and tortuous path, as compared with the way of self-surrender, but one can, with confidence in the Master, tread it firmly step by step. If, however, a person is fortunate enough to take to self-surrender, he can have all the blessings of the Master quickly; for he goes directly into His lap and has nothing to do by himself for himself.

He is then the Master’s elect, His beloved son, the son of God Himself. But very rarely even a really blessed soul may be able to acquire this attitude.

Beautifully woven into the text in this excellent new edition are many lovely pictures of the Master inserted by the publisher, which illustrate strikingly the various aspects of the Godman inherent in the Living Master.

In this age when the concept of the Guru is being flooded on us and ‘we find gurus under every stone’ this book, which tells what a Master of the Highest Order really is, assumes an even greater importance. Further, the book is charged through and through with the Love characteristic of its Author, Who is the living example of the principles stated therein.

Michael Raysson