January 1, 1992: Colors

On New Year’s Day, some of us were called into the courtyard of Maharaj’s small house to witness a special occasion: He was wearing beautiful golden clothes that Prince’s mother had made for him. He looked very elegant in long golden-yellow silk sherwani and trousers, so different from the graceful white cotton chola he normally wore. We were all so happy to see him dressed in this regal fashion that everyone wanted their pictures taken with him. But apparently those photos were not to be shown, for they all disappeared later, along with their negatives. Everything is in God’s hands here.

While we were there, Maharaj taught me about the significance of colors. Yellow, he told me, was worn by Lord Ram, Sita, Guru Gobind Singh, and Lord Krishna. It is a symbol of happiness and is worn during celebrations. Since ancient times in India, girls have been given yellow chunnis (veils) to wear at the time of engagement. On the wedding day, yellow-colored rice is distributed. The Nishan Sahib—tall flag pole at a gurdwara (Sikh temple)—is wrapped in yellow, with a yellow flag at the top. Lord Ram and Lord Krishna’s canopies were also of yellow color. It is considered very auspicious in India. Similarly, gold color is preferred by kings and prophets.

Since it was New Year’s Day, I said, “It seems to be a very auspicious year.” Maharaj answered, “That is why I have worn yellow clothes—so that happiness comes.”

Then Maharaj told me about the significance of blue. Lord Krishna’s brother Balram used to wear blue. It is a symbol of bravery. Furthermore, Maharaj said,

In those times, a person who wore blue was one who stood with the weak people, who helped those who were poor and whose voice was suppressed. Wearing blue meant that a person was ready to help weak people 24 hours a day.

Before the beginning of the Mahabharata battle, Lord Krishna said, “Balram, your stars are very lucky. You should go on a pilgrimage to the holy places and take a holy bath there.” Lord Krishna knew that Balram would stand by the Kauravs in the battle between the Kauravs and the Pandavs. If Balram stood with the Kauravs, it would be very difficult to defeat him. Balram obeyed the hukam given by Lord Krishna and left for pilgrimage. When he came back, he said to Lord Krishna, “You sent me because you wanted to help the Pandavs, whereas I would have helped the Kauravs.” Lord Krishna replied, “It is very good that you remained neutral.”

As always, Maharaj spoke about many religions in the course of expounding on one topic—in this case, the significance of colors. Green, he said, is a symbol of happiness and prosperity. It is a natural color, a healing color. Then he told the story of the Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr in the cave:

When the Prophet Muhammad left Mecca alone with Abu Bakr, followed  by their enemies from Mecca, they hid in a cave. A spider wove a lot of webs in front of the entrance, making it appear that no one had entered the cave in a long time. When the Prophet and Abu Bakr reached Medina, the people there welcomed their Prophet with green color. It was considered a very good color.

White, Maharaj said, is a symbol of peace. Years later, he reported to us that he saw Guru Gobind Singh riding a white horse, rather than the blue horse he usually rode. When Maharaj asked why, Guru Gobind Singh told him that a blue horse means war, whereas white symbolizes peace. We were very happy to hear that Guru Gobind Singh was now riding a white horse.

I asked Maharaj about pink. Maharaj told me that it is a symbol of happiness used on wedding occasions. Then I asked him if there are any colors that one should not wear, since they have a negative impact. Maharaj said, “One is black—it has a very bad impact. Another is navy blue. It looks very dangerous, as if some demon is coming. White leaves a good and positive impact.”

We always loved to see Maharaj in spotless white. Then in subsequent years, he began to wear cholas of other colors given to him by devotees—such as khaki green, gold, and light blue, but never black or dark blue. One wonders what effect prevails in the rest of the world because of the constant interactions among influential people wearing black.