Maharaj’s mother, Mata Iqbal Kaur, is slowly dying. At the great age of 96, she has been sick for 12 days and has refused to eat for the past 3 days. She lives in a special room which Maharaj ji has arranged for her near his little house. Posters of many deities adorn all the walls (see photo from November 1993).
These days Maharaj Ji has made a special point of being with his mother for hours daily, curtailing his usual farm rounds. And to further keep her company, he is holding small audiences in or outside her room. No matter how great he seems to us, to her he is still her beloved son. Mataji often chides his staff that they should bring him back earlier in the evening. Despite her age, she herself waits outside at night until he comes in from his rounds of the fields. Maharaj often speaks of the sacrifices of a mother, giving the example that if the baby wets the bed, the mother will sleep on the wet area and put the baby on the dry side.
Under Maharaj ji’s sweet encouragement, with his hand lovingly on her forehead, Mataji has begun eating today—a little milk and bread crumbs. As he gently feeds her from a spoon, they carry on a very touching conversation which we are privileged to witness. Maharaj says to his mother,
All the while you have been praying for me. You have been thinking only of me. You have been so considerate of me. Oh, Mother, it was because of you, your prayers, your blessings, that I have reached here. Because of you, these cars have come and we are farming thousands of acres of previously barren land for the sake of the needy. You have to live for so many years to come. You have to do a lot of things. You must not worry about me. Take care of yourself. I need you. How can I live life without you?
Mataji says, “God bless you! May you live long!”
Don’t worry about my age. Take care of yourself. Eat something. If you don’t eat anything, how can you prolong your life?
Mataji insists, “May Maharaj live long.”
Don’t worry about my age. Take care of yourself. Eat something. This is all your family. Donate something: Distribute food, clothes. Make the girls happy. Distribute sweets, distribute clothes. Ask the girls their favourite colours. Distribute food, sweets every day to the poor.
Then Maharaj says to the staff,
Start an Akhand Path immediately for her. She will be all right now, but charity is very much necessary. Charity is very meaningful. When the girls are happy, things will be all right.
Then again to Mataji,
If you feel like, distribute some clothes even to some Singhs (men). Select them. But for girls, ask them their favourite colours and try to distribute the clothes with your own hands. Try to distribute sweets with your own hands as well. What food do you want to distribute?
With folded hands, Mataji says, “Haacha ji [okay]. My son is God.”
Maharaj ji then admonishes the family members present,
It is your duty to come and visit her frequently lest she feel lonely. Because she is an elder, when she sees children around her, she feels happy. She can think she has a big family and belongs to a great clan.
In the evening, Mataji is given a glucose drip to strengthen her since she has only taken a little milk and bread crumbs under Maharaj’s tender urging. He sits by her bedside for hours as the drip slowly enters her vein. She says to him, “You should live very long. Your health should be very good. It is late and you are tired. You should go to your bed.”
Maharaj replies, “Koi nehin, Mataji (It doesn’t matter, Mother).”
Postscript: A few days after this touching scene, Mata Iqbal Kaur passed away on 27 February. Maharaj Ji took her body to their homestead in Sarawan Bodla, Punjab, for cremation and memorial rites attended by thousands of people. Her samadhi is there next to his father’s, and Maharaj has given the boon that anyone who sits at that holy place and reads Jaap Sahib two times will receive special blessings. [Otherwise, Maharaj’s standing hukam is for reading Jaap Sahib seven times daily, for God’s blessings.]