After 12 years, Maharaj has returned to his native Punjab. His mother’s final rites will be held on March 13, and as her Akhand Path begins today, Maharaj himself prays before Guru Granth Sahib, flanked by two beautiful photos of Mataji. The Hukam that comes has many references to the Perfect Guru.
The rest of the day is devoted to his visit to the nearby village of Fatehpur Mannianwala. Perhaps 1500 men and 600 women have gathered in a large colorful pandal to see and listen to him. The whole village has been tidied with fresh manure plaster on the mud-brick house walls, gaily painted with floral designs. Maharaj Ji has returned to Mannianwala after 18 years. He and his family had lived there for one and a half months when he was a boy, and then in 1960 he went to live there with one of his uncles for a while. It was during that time that the famous miracle occurred in which he brought a dead boy back to life. The villagers are so happy that Maharaj has returned at last.
Speaking in the pandal, Maharaj exhorts the villagers to recite Nam, to turn inside and focus the mind. “Once you go inside, everything is there—God’s Light, Sound, all of Creation. Nothing is outside. God is real. Make Him your best Friend. Everyone’s mind is sick. The cure is to remember Him with each breath. His Power is endless.”
Maharaj tells them he has great affection for people he knew since the old days. He urges them to drop any bad feelings among themselves, with the help of Nam: “Reciting Nam ends our hatred, our enmity. We are all travelling. Why not travel with love for each other?”
He concludes, “This very old village is already blessed, but with Nam and Jaap Sahib, I think God will bless it even more.”
After Maharaj’s talk, he walks to homes of his devotees. At each home, they lay out rugs, burlap sacks, plastic feed bags, and such to cover the dirt so that people can sit, plus a comfortable arm chair covered with a white sheet for Maharaj. In each place, a great quantity of Prasad is offered for Maharaj to bless and then the family members distribute it to everyone around, not only those of us who are travelling with Maharaj but also people in the streets. They give us oranges, bananas, halwah, ladoos, burfi, pakoras, sodas—and we are obliged to eat all these things at each house. The same lavish offerings are given to us again and again, at perhaps ten homes in all, and according to Punjabi hospitality, no matter what we have already eaten, we must eat the offerings at each place so the hosts will not be disappointed. Maharaj is also lovingly fed in each home, with the same expectation that he will accept the food and thus bring joy to the hearts of the hosts. This is a great expression of their love for him, and his love for them.
In Mannianwala, Maharaj asks an American priest in our entourage, “What do you think of this village?” The priest replies, “It reminds me of when Jesus was walking through Palestine, and the people would gather around Him.” Maharaj says, “Yes, yes.”