April 14, 1993 – Last morning of the big havan

                6 a.m. – I have been here since 3 a.m. It is now cloudy-light, the rain has passed, the cows and buffalos are beginning to stand up, and we have almost reached the end of the samagri at this havan kund.

Many people have left for tea, but from 4 to 5 a.m. there was such a beautiful polyphony of Nam being recited at the nearby havan kunds. Jatinder stood for hours at the central havan singing his steady Nam, with the next havan almost answering with their sweet, ecstatic version of Nam. I had sat at that havan in the beginning. A young man stood for hours slowly turning his beautiful long white mala and singing God’s Name with his eyes closed, his head tipped back and to the side.

The energy had built to a high pitch the first night. Kissi told me, “It was the high point of my whole life.” I photographed one young man reading Jaap Sahib amid a shower of the sparks.

Last night was sheer devotion. The love therefrom that is spreading throughout the sangat is quite extraordinary.

We have become addicts of this amazing form of worship. In place of Brahmin formalities and paid pundits, there is the genuine devotion and deep-rooted discipline of Guru Gobind Singh’s Sikhs. He must be very pleased with them.

Different villages full of devotees have been given responsibility for keeping each of the havans going night and day, with their own sangat members sitting there. In addition to these Sikhs, people of other religions have been invited to pray in their own ways for peace in the world. Thus there are Muslims doing their Namaz, Zoroastrians conducting their own form of fire worship, Hindus reciting mantras, and a Tibetan Buddhist lama making offerings via the fire.

Maharaj has stood for hours every day, watching people  participating in the havans and being fed in the immense langar. When people are singing Nam in particularly strong and loving voices, for hour after hour, beyond human possibility, it is surely Maharaj who is singing. When Bhagat Ji recites Jaap Sahib out loud for 27 hours continuously, with only a few breaks to drink tea, it is surely Maharaj who is reciting. Everything has been done flawlessly, so it must be he who is doing; we are not capable of such organization. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people were fed in one meal yesterday alone (marking Baisakhi, April 13th). The food has been uncommonly good, distributed so efficiently.


10 a.m.—After Maharaj strides into the field to pray at each of the havans, he sits confidently in the pavilion and gives a powerful talk to thousands of us. Some excerpts:

Why do tapasya, Nam, and havan? The five evil things within us [lust, anger, greed, attachment, and egotism] trouble us day and night. But Guru Gobind Singh did such powerful tapasya that he became one with God.

At the havan fire, the inner fire of enlightenment builds, and as we recite Nam, we see that everything is God: “Sab Gobind hai.”

Khalsa is one who always sees this, and who builds his/her character.

Our symbol is love, seva, and feeding the poor.

The most important thing is to have love inside. Then you won’t need to speak much.

People come with demands, but they must do some seva, plant the seeds.

A hundred Muslims from the area arrive at the end. Maharaj has already finished his talk and blessed and dismissed the sangat, but he asks the thousands who are still there to wait and listen to what they have to say. After speaking about the Prophet Muhammad and Guru Nanak, Maulana Shamsuddin Nomani talks about how Maharaj has brought up this area from a jungle. He says, “It is all Babaji’s blessing and great seva work. It has had a great effect on the whole area. He has done what the government could not do. We should all accept and live according to what our religion teaches us. Only then can we live harmoniously in this country. Babaji’s message is so important in today’s world. I wish that the news of this big occasion spreads to all corners of India.”