Sevadars have presented us with a large videocamera, and I am carrying it around to record many everyday farm scenes, as well as Maharaj Ji’s talks. Today’s video record starts in the semi-open grass hut in which live Maharaj’s inner staff members. In it, Harinder Kaur is pressing Maharaj’s immaculate white chola. Harinder is an extremely brave, dedicated, quietly self-effacing sevadar who cooks and carries other domestic duties for Maharaj Ji. There is also a picture of Balwant Singh cleaning Maharaj’s 1984 Ford Bronco, a sturdy 4-wheel-drive vehicle that can cross fields, rivers, and dusty cart-tracks with no complaints as Maharaj makes his daily rounds of the thousands of acres that comprise Shiv Sadan farm.
His first stop today is at the dargah of Pir Sahib, who is bestowing great blessings on Shiv Sadan ever since Maharaj Ji built his dargah with love and respect, according to the directions given in vision by Pir Sahib. Sevadars often go there to do cleaning seva, pray, and receive Pir Sahib’s blessings. As we arrive, two women are sweeping the dust and fallen leaves from the earthen surface, which has been covered with manure plaster to limit the dust and discourage insects. Maharaj stops at the entrance to the dargah to pay his respects to Pir Sahib and then stands under a thatch-roofed pavilion which offers cooling shade as he gives impromptu audiences to people who arrive.
Two sevadars walk up the dirt road from the dera, which is lined with some of the thousands of young poplar trees Maharaj Ji has planted. Benefitting from the water given to the fields, the trees provide welcome shade for people walking through the heat and dust. Reaching Pir Sahib’s place, the men use the hand pump there to wash their legs and faces before bowing to Pir Sahib and Maharaj.
Churchill Chadha from Delhi, whose family has long been devoted to Maharaj, appears with two of his business associates, who have come to take Maharaj Ji’s guidance for their business. Standing and then sitting on a moora made of the local canes, he gives them a long spiritual talk about the immeasurable Power of God, whose names are many.
When Maharaj returns temporarily to his small pre-fabricated metal house, which has been fitted with a screened veranda, I take the new video camera to the dera nearby to see what’s going on. Long chains of jasmine flowers have been strung above the road in preparation for Baba Siri Chand’s birthday. Baba Siri Chand is the elder son of Guru Nanak who has been appearing to Maharaj Ji since his childhood to give spiritual guidance and blessings, so his birthday is always celebrated with great enthusiasm at Maharaj ji’s communities. A tractor fitted with swaga drives under the jasmine canopy as if receiving a royal welcome.
The main thing happening in the central compound is Akhand Path, non-stop 48-hour reading of the entire Guru Granth Sahib. A microphone and sound system have been set up, so the voice of the pathi reading the inspiring hymns of Sikh Gurus, Hindu and Muslim saints, is heard throughout the compound.
Everything has been newly painted, including Darbar Sahib and also the havan, so two old men are carrying on a temporary havan outside. Since there is no smoke at present, I have the chance to videotape some of the pictures mounted inside the havan, including Lord Shiva, Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, and Baba Siri Chand with a very long arm, reaching up to bring back his nephew Dharam Chand. In the langar, women are making chapattis for the community over low chulas.
I return to Maharaj’s small house in time to see him coming out and setting off down the road with Gurdev Singh holding an immense umbrella to shade him from the sun. This is Gurdev Singh’s self-appointed seva, which he performs with total concentration, never letting the hot sun fall on his revered Master, even when holding the heavy and unwieldy umbrella for hours while walking with Maharaj Ji throughout the farm must be physically very difficult.
Reaching the central compound, Maharaj talks briefly with Sarawan Singh, the brilliant young electrician who does seva of all the electric works throughout Shiv Sadan. Then he passes under the new gateway which has been constructed in time for Baba Siri Chand’s birthday and stands praying for a long time at the temporary outdoor havan. He also prays inside Darbar Sahib, where he waves Chaur Sahib over the sacred scripture and offers fragrance to it. Noticing every detail, he points out a fault to be corrected in the Chaur Sahib handle. Outside, he confers with sevadars on preparations for the upcoming celebrations. Once he begins his rounds in his Bronco, he stops to talk with sevadars who are using a huge bulldozer on the dirt road opposite the dera. The last picture is of Major Sahib, our venerable head granthi and research scholar, with adoring children clinging to him.
Then the scenes on the video shift to Tejpuri, where many sevadars are working in the tractor repair area. Maharaj himself goes to one of the places where he meets people while overseeing seva—under a tree at the intersection of several fields in Tejpuri. Rice fields are ripening in front of him, sugarcane behind him. Today sand is being dumped to repair a road through the fields as he watches. A simple mat is spread on the ground for people to sit on.
Some of the people who have come to see him today are the famous “Green Revolution” scientist Dr. Khem Singh Gill, plus other agricultural specialists from Punjab and Haryana, including Dr. Harcharan Singh Dhaliwal, Dr. Mangal Singh Sandhu, Mr. Amarjit Singh, and Mr. R. K. Dabas, a seed specialist who is doing research with fruits and vegetables at Shiv Sadan under Maharaj’s blessings. Maharaj talks to them for hours, beginning with the importance of meditation and how Shiv Sadan was developed from a barren wasteland by hard work and the blessings of God. By the time they leave, the sun is setting. Then more people arrive. Sitting in the dark, Maharaj Ji teaches them about the oneness of religions, quoting Guru Nanak. He tells them that those who have adopted Nam and Jaap Sahib go straight to God and receive great blessings.
As he talks, a vat of khir (milk and rice pudding) is being prepared, and people of all social levels wait in the dark with their katoris (bowls). Maharaj distributes large portions to each one—tasty and tangible evidence of his generous blessings.