The homestead in Sarawan Bodla where Maharaj lived until his youth and established a dera is full of sacred places with their special blessed histories. The central figure is Ber Sahib, a great ber (jujube) tree. Long ago, a saint reportedly used to meditate in her shade, and a small altar still marks the place where he sat. Ber Sahib is not beautiful, for there are many suckers both live and dead sprouting from her major branches. Havan is conducted there, so her havan side is fire-blackened along the dead branches above the smoke. But there is a great abundance of life energy in her presence. There are at least 12 major trunks springing out of her wide base at head height, all intertwining. She seems to me like the embodiment of the True Dharma—so many life-filled offshoots from one great Base. And her leaves and fruits, which she drops in great abundance, have renowned healing powers. Even the dirt from around her roots is healing. Maharaj used to recommend it to people with diseases such as leprosy, and they were cured.
Unmarried girls come to pray before Ber Sahib that they will find a good husband and have a good house. As a token of their prayer and their appreciation, they take off their bangles and place them on stumps of her old branches.
In the evenings, the sangat sits under Ber Sahib singing simple home-made songs of devotion:
“Oh girls, He looks like a child.
You are so excited to see Him.
He looks like a rose flower, He looks like a champa flower.”
People with special requests or problems have hung many ornaments on Ber Sahib as offerings. I am told that even just sitting under Ber Sahib has a healing effect, and people often sleep below her branches for that blessing. Otherwise, according to Maharaj’s hukam many devotees sit beneath Ber Sahib to read Jaap Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh’s powerful hymn praising the many attributes of the formless God.
While he is in Sarawan Bodla, Maharaj Ji gives audience outside in a corner next to Ber Sahib, with sangat spreading out all across the wide platform that surrounds her. His own powerful presence merged with hers create an environment in which people are readily transformed. Day after day they come to see him, from farmers to high officials, and all leave with precious gems of guidance and blessings. He inspires officials to commit themselves to village development and peaceful coexistence, without oppression. Punjab already holds the world record for wheat production per acre and has the world’s largest fertilizer factory. Electricity is excellent and constant, with the power cuts we experience in Delhi. Roads are smooth. Fields and homes are prosperous and orderly. Even the paid labourers are clean, well-dressed, and well-off here. But the true spiritual programme of the Gurus has been set on a back burner. Maharaj is here to re-ignite that flame by reminding people of the Gurus’ true mission. The essence of his many talks in Punjab is given in News from Gobind Sadan, May 1994 (archived in www.gobindsadan.org).