This is true leadership. Maharaj has gone in for lunch; even when he comes out again, we will never see him rushing frantically around. Instead, perhaps a thousand sevadars have gathered here at his call to prepare for a crowd of many thousands to come in the next three days. The occasion: a huge continuous havan for the peace of the world—650 pipas of ghee (tins of 15 kgs. each), 100 quintals of black sesame seed, and many quintals of samagri made of mixtures of 150 different ingredients will be offered around the clock at nine large havan kunds in what was a 2-acre field of fodder, which has just been cut. Everywhere purposeful organized activity is rapidly taking place, seemingly organically.
At present I am sitting on the channel to the Ganges, where Kissi’s enormous bulldozer is preparing footings in the water for a bridge. Kissi, Balwant Singh, and Kissi’s foreman, plus some other interested people are atop the huge machine as it maneuvers large concrete pipes through the water. Bhangra music is playing on someone’s car stereo, the beat matching our upbeat mood. This is a true pilgrimage. Earlier there had been plans to conduct the havan according to Vedic rites, with some 1640 people at a time assisting a team of Brahmin pundits at 108 havan kunds (these are sacred numbers in Hindu tradition), for two four-hour stretches during the days. But this is much more our style, and everyone is happy. No one’s ego is on display. No one has a chance to perform. The only audience will be God and the gods.
Tall Hira Singh from the langar greets me on the road. Speaking in very slow and distinct Punjabi so that I can understand, he says, “Sevadars have been working day and night for two days here. But it is only That Power (pointing to the sky) that is doing the work. It is all Maharaj’s grace.”
Electricity has just been brought to this remote area, because Maharaj’s great success in developing the land has attracted the attention and appreciation of all the officials in the area. In the few minutes since I went down to the channel and back, Sarawan Singh and his assistant have climbed a tall cement pole with their bare hands and feet and strung wires across the road to an arched framework of colored lights, tinsel, and even chandeliers over a pathway to be used by humans, buffalos, and Maharaj, who is in a category by himself.
In the havan courtyard—which now has a lovely brick floor—17 men are mixing and bagging the samagri, using precious fragrant sandalwood powder, dried fruits, black sesame seed, oats, wheat, rice, and much more.
When we arrived an hour and a half ago by bus, a canopied area was just being erected as sleeping/living quarters. Already it is complete, with village-by-village, bus-by-bus groups occupying partitioned rooms. Straw on the dirt, which has been spread with manure plaster, overspread with rugs, makes comfortable bedding. We have brought our blankets, and they are all we need. Maharaj is providing everything.
Kissi, Churchill, and S. P. Sahib sit on tent bales in what used to be the tractor yard, now turned into a huge manure-plastered area that will become a langar with nine feeding rows.
Maharaj even seems to be in control of the weather. It is what is considered a lovely day here, cool and cloudy rather than intensely hot and sunny as it might have been at this time of year.
Just next to the shelter where our cows and buffalos are having their evening meal, half an acre is being covered by a canopy held aloft by poles.
. . . . .
6:15 p.m.—Maharaj has come out, quietly sending back to work and prayer those who want to throng around him. As a stiff wind blows up, his 1984 Ford Bronco is the first car to cross the new bridge. It holds.
In a field that was just this afternoon harvested of fodder by sevadars, the bulldozer has leveled an area where a crew of men is quickly erecting a 60-foot-long canopy for overflow crowds to sleep under. The wind blows dust into our eyes, but a truckload of sevadars that has just arrived don’t care. They have parked on the dike close to their beloved leader, and are now jumping down to bow to him amidst the blowing dust.
. . . .
7 p.m. – In the growing dark, 30 men are hastening to fill plastic feed bags with sand from the banks of the Ganges with which to surround the drain pipes under the bridge. Otherwise, they are becoming clogged with newly-bulldozed sand. Maharaj still sits there near the new bridge, encouraging the seva by his very presence. One can barely see, but he always seems to see everything, at any distance, by seeing other than that of bodily eyes.
I tell Maharaj that his programme is very well organized. He says, “It’s because it is God’s programme.” I tell him that everyone is very happy. He says, “It’s because God is very happy.” I can see him smiling even in the dark. He quotes some scripture I can’t understand and then says something I can understand: “Guru Gobind Singh is great!”