On February 6th Maharaj had hosted a large interfaith gathering in his garden in conjunction with the International Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP). One of the reporters who covered the event was K. Kannan, from The Hindu, a daily English newspaper. He and his photographer were so touched by their interview with Maharaj after the function that they prostrated themselves full length on the ground before him. Mr. Kannan asked Maharaj, “May I please consider you my Guru until the next prophet comes?”
I mentioned the reporter’s request to philosophical, bent old Baba Harmit Singh as he was doing his customary seva of washing utensils in the langar. He said emphatically, “Maharaj is not a prophet—He is the Maker of Prophets! He is God Himself come to us in human form!”
In any case, Mr. Kannan had written a beautiful piece about Maharaj and Gobind Sadan for The Hindu, and as soon as it appeared in print he brought copies to Maharaj. Maharaj said to him, in part:
People don’t know how to study religion from God. When you are selling spiritual knowledge, your life becomes worthless. Your life itself is an insult. All the priests in the world are doing this.
One day Guru Nanak said to a pandit, “Work for the people.” All prophets have said the same thing: “There is one God. Worship one God.” If a spiritual authority takes bribes from people, how can enlightenment come?
Mr. Kannan asked him what would happen in Punjab, which was torn by sectarian and separatist violence. Maharaj told him to look at the religious teachings involved:
Does dharma teach us to love everyone or wipe out the bad people? How can we tell who are the bad people? With that kind of thinking, the violence will never end.
Mr. Kannan, who is an excellent writer, said, “Babaji, I am just 25, just out of journalism school. There are so many obstacles to my ambition. I lose my coolness, become anxious.”
Maharaj assured him, “There is no solution other than meditation.”
“I can’t meditate.”
“It’s like falling in love with someone. Automatically your mind is there.”
“I become restless.”
“What form of God do you worship?”
“Focus your thoughts at once on Him. When we say leave your desires, we don’t mean your ambitions. We don’t mean to leave your good desires.
Just make a goal and don’t worry about these things. The goal you should make is that you have this desire to serve humanity. Your goal should be not to worry about opposition.”
Mr. Kannan suggested,“Realization of God is like an educational process.”
Maharaj agreed, saying, “I can only give you that medicine which has cured my disease. So the Nam I have received I will give to you.”
Then Maharaj gave him Nam, in his very simple way, having Mr. Kannan repeat the three parts after him, three times: “Ik Onkar, Sat Nam, Siri Wahe Guru.” Maharaj told him,
Nobody can properly interpret this Nam. “Onkar” is the “Om” of Vedas. All of the Vedas convey only this: “Ik Onkar”—“God is One.”
“Sat Nam” means God is Truth. “Wahe Guru” means “You are beyond form, beyond description.”
This is enough. It will show you the path to everything, for it is in everything. It has no religion.
Mr. Kannan recited the Vaishnavite mantra he had been given and asked him which one to recite.
“They’re not different.”
“When should I recite Nam, and how long?”
”Recite Nam from early morning and then repeat it all day automatically in your mind like a great song.”
After the audience, I complimented Mr. Kannan on the depth of his understanding reflected in his article. He said, “I have the feeling that I didn’t write this.” Then I understood that Maharaj was working within him already. Here is an excerpt from his article, “Turning worship places into trading centres,” which was published on February 8, 1993, on page 2 of The Hindu:
“Virsa Singhji who was inspired in childhood to have vision of God and who has come up spiritually through divine intervention says that those people who represent God in different places of worship have not been able to give a good impression about themselves to the people. ‘God after all is beyond comparison. It is simply wrong to turn places of worship into trading centres,’ he says.
“As people flock to him in search of peace, Baba Virsa Singh Ji Maharaj advises them to concentrate on their personal God and then enlarge their minds to encompass positive things in the world so that the veil which separates people from inner peace is lifted. ‘Peace is within oneself and meditation the only way to achieve it.’
“Though Baba Virsa Singh stresses on meditation, his concept is unique and seems tailor made to suit people’s present day needs. A seated posture is not needed and no particular religion need be emphasized. ‘It is essentially a process o overcoming personal weaknesses and lift the shield of deception that hangs over our heads like a Damocles Sword,’ he says.
“He said that helping others in their own small ways is nothing but helping oneself to reach God. ‘You should become stronger in your ability to help people. Then you will succeed in your personal progress,’ he says and adds: ‘This is possible only if you set a personal goal and look to the brighter as well as darker side of things with optimism.’
“However, the human being in Baba Virsa Singh does feel anguish and manifests itself in the form of concern for the world. As he says, ‘If you want to know from the stand-point of God, nothing happens outside of God’s order. But from the stand-point of knowledge, great injustice is being done in this country and outside.’
“Baba Virsa Singh also expressed concern about the fact that religion is being distorted to suit the self-interest of a particular section of society. ‘They should realize that the world is transient and as they pass over into another world, they would be carrying their ignorance with them.’
“All prophets have preached in some form or the other what Babaji says. Then what is unique in his teachings? The fact that he is a living example of fruition of one’s personal goals through selfless service. Those who were close to Babaji recall the days when he used to plough the fields to make way for the Ashram near Garhmukteshwar called ‘Shiv Sadan.’ And he stresses on the principle of ‘self-reliance’ to this day.
“As he says, ‘The essence of God is selfless service.’ He adds: ‘It is my personal feeling that God has no abode. God is the other name for love.’ And he advises people to increase the intensity of love towards others. ‘Don’t spend so much time worrying,’ he adds to the questions of concern about increasing injustice in society. ‘May be the time has come for God to manifest himself.’”