Our Christmas celebration has been unusually rich with God’s Light and love. Maharaj had asked me to make the arrangements. For several weeks, many people have been helping happily. A big potted evergreen tree was brought into the courtyard and we decorated and redecorated it as winter storms rearranged our efforts. A group of children and I spent a gray and drizzly afternoon making Christmas nativity figures out of the local clay soil mixed with cowdung. Considering that this medium was rather limp, the crude figures held together quite well. We have large seated lumpish Mary and Joseph figures, a swaddled baby Jesus, three seated Wise Men, kneeling shepherds, many sheep and baby sheep, sparrows, a donkey, a rabbit, and one mouse. Two adults who stopped by crafted surprising contributions: Bhagat Ji made an arrow, and asked me, “Sister, what is this?” We placed it pointing to the manger scene, so people could follow the Light. Tall Khara Singh, who teases me by insisting that he is my “Daddy,” proved to be quite deft as an artisan. In his hands, the same clay that could only be shaped into almost formless lumps in our hands became quickly transformed into an elephant, a camel, and a bull.
Major Sahib had said to me that we should have a live Santa Claus arriving as a surprise for the sangat. I nominated him for the role. When I asked Maharaj’s permission, he said it should be a fat man, rather than someone of scholarly Major Sahib’s shape. “We will make him look fat,” I promised.
It was a small function, by Gobind Sadan standards, but thus an intimate and very heartwarming affair. Twenty-five young Christian fathers and sisters from Kerala State arrived with Syrian Orthodox Father Varghese. They stood near the nativity scene, with our children and sangat seated on rugs stretching beyond the havan. For half an hour, they sang to us in Malayalam, a language of South India, and read the Christmas story from the Malayalam translation of the Bible. Their faces were earnest and sweet.
After they finished, the children and I began setting up the harmonium so we could sing a few Christmas carols we had rehearsed in English. But Maharaj suddenly appeared, to everyone’s joy. He asked me to give a talk. Under the influence of his calm and powerful presence, I stood next to him and read a short message I had been rehearsing in Punjabi. People nodded in understanding. Afterward, many people said that the pronunciation had been perfect, to their surprise. If so, it was only by Maharaj’s grace. He stood listening with his eyes closed.
Then Maharaj himself gave a beautiful talk. Part way through, he asked the South Indians if they could understand him. “We can’t understand your language,” they told him, “but we are receiving your spiritual message.”
As later translated by Gurdev Singh and published by Gobind Sadan as “The Spirit of Jesus Will Never Die,” Maharaj said,
When great spiritual personalities take birth in the world, people who are very faithful recognize them and learn from them. The prophets all bring the same message, the same lesson: Love God, love human beings, love all creatures, love even the earth. But where will this love come from? We ourselves have no love. We will become full of love only when we love that Power whom Jesus called his Father. Jesus repeatedly said, “The kingdom of my Father is very great. In it you will find peace, love, and truth. Therefore you should all believe in that kingdom.”
Our limitation now is that we have turned religion into exclusive circles. In Jesus there was no one religion, for he was created from Light, and that Light is guiding everything. That Light resides in the trees, in the earth, and in our hearts. So what meaning is there in those fortresses that we call religions?
The cross is just a symbol of Jesus. What is Jesus? He is Light. What is Light? It is That which drives everything—trees, animals, birds. When this Light leaves a body or a tree, that thing dies.
Therefore, on this day we should stress only one thing: That wherever a person is worshipping God, he is acting upon the message of Jesus. No matter what devotions he recites, how he offers flowers, what he sings, Jesus’ message applies: “If you worship with love, my Father will bless you.”
Sometimes when a prophet receives God’s command and passes it on to the people, they do not like what they hear. For example, Jesus said a very great thing: “I am the Life and I am the Way.” An ordinary person hearing this may object, saying that God is the Life and the Way. But we must understand that when a prophet speaks thus, it is actually God Who is speaking. God ordered Jesus, “Say that the Way is you and the Life is also you.”
These things are not theory. So why is there hatred in us? Why do we turn gurdwaras, temples, mosques and churches into fortresses, refusing to acknowledge other religions within those boundaries? We do this because we are ignorant. We should celebrate the birth of Jesus in all religious places because he taught all of us love and faith. Whenever a person was blessed, Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you. Faith is the greatest thing.”
Today we should ask only one thing: “Oh God, Oh Paramatma, Oh Allah, Oh Wahe Guru, Oh Jesus, please give us that love that You want to see in us, for we have no love. Please give us that faith that You always want to see in us, for we have no faith.”
A strange thing happened one day. Jesus was attracted to a certain tree by its leaves. But when he saw that there was no fruit on the tree, he said, “You should wither and die because you are fruitless.” A person who was standing nearby said, “Master, you gave this order to the tree and the tree died. At your word, the wind changes direction. If you are standing on the water, it becomes a road. What kind of man are you?” Jesus replied, “This is the difference between you and me. I understand that the wind is blowing under the order of my Father. The river is flowing under the order of my Father. Even the earth is standing under the order of my Father. When I speak, they obey me because they are all under the order of my Father. So if you say to the mountain, ‘Come down,’ with faith, it will come down.”
Once Jesus said that even if a person has faith equal to a small mustard seed, the mountain will move. Another time he said, “Look at the lily—how beautiful is its dress! We all wear clothing, but our clothing cannot be compared to the beauty with which God has clothed the lily. The beauty of the lily is God’s work, not the work of humans.”
That is why we need faith and love. We also need truthfulness and good behavior toward each other. Then what will happen? Throughout the world, wars will end, arming for defense will end, and hatred will vanish from the earth.
Now there is a mental fight between the master and the followers. The master says, “Love,” but the followers hate. The master says, “All of you are equal,” but the followers make distinctions of caste and creed, make distinctions between rich and poor. Jesus did not make these distinctions. He said, “Love all things.”
Always keep with you the message of faith, love, and service that Jesus has given to us; keep these spiritual powers always alive. The spirit of Jesus will never die. God’s Power will never end nor will Jesus’ power ever end. Your experience of this power depends on your faith—on your recognition of and belief in Him. Recognize that He is sitting in us, that He is going with us, that He is standing in our thought, that He is changing our thought. I feel that He is in our thoughts, our body, our actions, in our sleep and in our awaking.
Today is a day of great love, great light, great vision. That birth day, that Mother, that place was very great where the light of Jesus appeared. And that light remained on earth forever, not only for that day. That Light is today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. . . .
Don’t encircle God. See God as Light. If the fan is turning, feel that the energy which is working behind it is God. There is life in this tree—that is God’s Light. This light is also within our life.
If you believe thus, what will happen? You will become enlightened. Peter was enlightened because he really believed, “Our Master is giving Light to the light, and Life to life. He is driving the whole universe.” In Peter the same spirit started working, so Jesus had to say, “In you the Spirit will do more work than in me.” That is why the twelve disciples cured severe diseases, transformed the minds of so many people, and spread so much peace. They even restored life to dead bodies. They did so because Jesus gave this blessing to all the twelve: “The Spirit will do more work in you than in me.” We should take this blessing: that the Spirit of Jesus will work in us as it did in them.
Jesus did not demand anything from us except love. Once he said, “Don’t love me like this—that you give some love to your children, some to your wife, some to your relatives, some to your business, and then come to me with what love is left over. I don’t need that fragment of love. If you give all your love to God, then the love which you get from my Father you will distribute among all beings.”
That is why all of us, including you boys and girls, should be aware that today is a day of light, today is a day of love. Jesus always said, “Love, love, love, love, love.” He said we should not worry, should not fear, and should rise above hatred. Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
Today is a very happy day. Feel Him, think of Him. May that spirit grant us peace, serenity, and love. Jesus always wanted peace in the world. Jesus says that the peace which prevails in the kingdom of God should prevail on earth. If we all beg for this, God will grant it to us.
As Maharaj finished giving this wonderful message, Major Sahib suddenly made his surprise appearance in a Santa costume stuffed with pillows, to everyone’s great delight. “Hail to Lord Jesus!” he called again and again in a loud voice. Stepping among the closely-packed children, he opened his sack and handed out candies all around.
Maharaj prayed over and cut the cake, and then asked me to sing something. The children and I sang “Away in a Manger,” rather weakly but sincerely. Then the visiting Syrian Orthodox brothers and sisters came to our rescue, singing “Jingle Bells” and “We wish you a Merry Christmas” in hearty voices.
Earleen Fisher, South Asian Bureau Chief for the Associated Press, had come for the event. It was the prospect of hearing Syrian Orthodox Christians and Sikh children singing Christmas songs together that lured her here, she said.
In her audience afterward with Maharaj, she asked a series of tough reporterly questions. For instance, “Why do people touch your feet?” Maharaj replied,
I am just an ordinary person. I do not want people touching my feet. We even had signboards placed here instructing people not to bow and touch my feet. But in India the tradition is very strong that we should always touch the feet of the head of the family. People do it out of respect and to get blessings.
After escorting Father Varghese and Earleen to their cars, I rejoined Maharaj. I told him that we were setting out candles and jyots (small oil lamps in clay bowls) at Jesus’s Place, where Jesus had appeared to him in 1983, showering blessings on Gobind Sadan. To my great joy, Maharaj agreed to come up once everything was ready, with maximum candles and jyots.
Gathering everyone including the sangat children, I hurried up the hill in the darkness. Starting 100 feet from Jesus’ Place, the young women had set candles atop the walls of the old dairy complex. In the darkness beyond the walls, several buffalos shifted their weight from foot to foot, breathing quietly. Walking along this aisle of light, we found Jesus’ Place aglow with hundreds of candles and jyots against the dark plain beyond. The simplicity of the desert-like setting seemed truly Biblical.
To keep the high-spirited children out of the sanctified area so the women could finish lighting the jyots, I tried to organize all of us extraneous people into two lines beyond, holding lighted candles and singing “Ik Onkar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru” (“There is One God Whose Name is Truth, Supreme Wondrous Bringer of Light”). Energy was still running high as Maharaj arrived by car, so it took a few minutes to silence the children so that Maharaj could feel the atmosphere of Jesus’ Place in total stillness.
Maharaj stood next to the low altar where jyots are daily lit, spreading his arms to the sides and telling us how it was when Jesus came to him and gave one hundred blessings to Gobind Sadan. The blessings were so many and so powerful that he was very frightened, he said. One, for instance, was the power to pardon murderers. The responsibilities he was being given were tremendous, thus his fear.
After relating this story and saying prayers at the little shrine ablaze with lights, Maharaj asked me to sing. I brought the children forward and we sang the first verse of “Silent Night.” Then I tried to explain to Maharaj in broken Punjabi that we sing this song softly because the baby Jesus is sleeping. We sang the first verse again, very softly, and love flowed all around.
Maharaj later told us that while we were at Jesus’ Place that night, Jesus appeared to him in vision with a new message. In 1985, Jesus had said to Maharaj Ji, “I will be working through you from now on.” On this Christmas night, he said to Maharaj Ji, “I have taken charge of Gobind Sadan. Have no worry. You just go and meditate—that’s all.” When Maharaj later told Dr. Anand about this vision, he said, “Now I am free. Whether or not people are fed is His responsibility now.”
We sevadars walked back to the central compound in the dark, with the children carrying a few remaining lighted candles. I was walking ahead, not needing those lights to see by, for the Light within was so strong. To either side of the tree-lined path, I could feel the presence of multitudes of angels, more than I had ever felt before. I found Maharaj standing by the langar, making sure that everyone was fed. I told him about the angels along the path. “Of course,” He said, “That’s their job. How did you know they were there?” I couldn’t see them—I could just feel them. To me they felt like soft stirrings of energy, more powerful than the sweet unseen presences that always used to welcome me with gentle caresses as I walked along the path to my home in the United States. Now I have been gone too long; when I returned for a visit, they were no longer there. But Gobind Sadan is now my home, and it is charged with great power and great blessings.
God’s Presence was so strong, so obvious among us on this very sacred day. Jatinder Pal later asked me, “Didn’t you see that Maharaj was himself Jesus?” I am not a seer, but I know that God’s Love was alive among us.