When the Divine Father blessed us with sons

Aakash Sethi, March 2008 हिंदी
It was in the last week of June 1998 that I had the good fortune of having Guruji's darshan. My maternal uncle had been telling us about Guruji and the miraculous cure of his heart problem. My uncle had been advised to go for an urgent bypass surgery by his cardiologist. Preparing himself mentally for surgery, he had gone to Guruji for His blessings. Guruji ordered him to sit near Him and press His lotus feet. During the course of this seva, Guruji asked him about his health and told him to explain what had happened. Uncle continued to do so for a while and then sought Guruji's permission to leave and His blessings for the imminent surgery. Guruji told him that he did not need to go for the surgery, saying, "I have already done your bypass." It was unbelievable even for a devout disciple like him, but he was happy that Guruji had blessed him.

Next morning, uncle went for his pre-admission tests. The tests revealed that his heart was functioning perfectly. He went to his cardiologist and showed the test reports to him. The doctor did not believe them and attributed the good reports to the tests having been done just after the patient had slept well. He directed uncle to get the tests redone at a different laboratory. Again, the results were the same. The doctor was stunned. Uncle related the night's happenings to the doctor. The doctor was left speechless and could not but wonder at Guruji's divine intervention.

I had been told about Guruji's grace by uncle, but because of being posted at Srinagar and being able to come to Delhi only on short visits for official work, I could not have Guruji's darshan. Fortunately, the day I returned to Delhi, uncle conveyed the good news that Guruji was in Delhi and we could go to meet Him. We went to the Empire Estate residence of Guruji the same evening. It was quite late by the time we reached. The last round of langar was on and Guruji had gone to His room for a while. We were asked to sit for the langar and were sitting with the sangat when Guruji walked out of His room. The first darshan of Guruji, walking gracefully though unassumingly into the hall, dressed in a black-coloured kurta is still fresh in my mind. He recognised my Uncle, observed us (first-timers there) and came to us. He asked Uncle to introduce us, and then gave us chhutti (leave) after telling us to come to The Ranch for His birthday.

First day and testing times

As luck would have it, the next day when I went to join my Delhi office, I was told to go back to Srinagar on temporary duty as the new in-charge had faltered on service and a customer had complained to the regional office. I returned to Srinagar, unhappy at the prospect of not being able to get Guruji's darshan on His birthday, but confident of meeting with success in my official duty as I had had darshan and Guruji's blessing. I knew everything would go as Guruji wanted it to. I went through the official duties at Srinagar and Awantipur under tough conditions, remembering Guruji in every adverse moment. The customer was more demanding than ever before and used to continuously push us around, attempting to substantiate his complaint. I could have failed at occasions like this in the past but this time it was different. There was an anchor I was holding on to and remembering Him in every rough hour.

Finally, after a month, the customer called me to his office and in front of me made a call to our Regional Office, telling them of the excellent service being received. He told them to ignore the complaint. An appreciation letter was handed over to me. I knew whose doing this was.

I returned to Delhi, looking forward to Guruji's darshan. My family had gone for Guruji's birthday celebrations and had been regularly going to Empire Estate. They told me of the many thousands of devotees who had come to Guruji's birthday and of the experiences the sangat had shared with them. I thought, "But would He bless us with a child?" We had been a childless couple for seven years. Medical treatment, prayers, and upaays (remedies) had failed to help us. My uncle had suggested we seek Guruji's blessings. He had also related the experience of a contractor friend of his.

"You will get children. Run away," said Guruji; " I won't," I replied

The contractor had been childless for a good 16 years, when he got Guruji's blessings. Guruji had told him, "Puttar vee ditte, dhee vee dittee. Hor issi saal (I give you sons and a daughter too; that too this very year)." This was unbelievable, but true to Guruji's word, the contractor's wife gave birth to triplets (two sons and a daughter) on 31 December of that year. "Everything is possible with Guruji's blessings...but whether and when will He bless us?" I wondered. We continued visiting Guruji regularly but He never talked to us. The sangat told us to have faith in Guruji. "He will talk to you at an appropriate time. Do not go to Him on your own to mention your problem," they advised us.

One day, when we were sitting amidst the sangat after the langar, Guruji gestured to me to come to Him. Unable to believe my good luck, I looked at people around me to make sure that He was indeed calling me. Yes, it was me, sangat members assured me. I walked up to Guruji, thousands of thoughts in my mind but with no courage to speak. "Aithe kyon aaya vein (Why have you come here)?", he asked me. I mustered just enough courage to mutter, "Guruji, I have no children." Guruji said detachedly, "You will get children. Run away from here." Without thinking, I muttered, "Guruji, I have not come to run away." Guruji looked at me and said, "Ok. Then keep coming every eighth day." This was something that surprised me no end. I wondered how Guruji knew that it was convenient for me to come here only every eighth day. At that time, I was working in shifts with a eight-day rotation cycle (two morning shifts, two afternoon shifts, two night shifts and then two off days), with only the evening of the first off-day being convenient for attending the satsang.

We started going for Guruji's darshan every eighth day. The members of the sangat, who had been blessed by Guruji's generosity, used to narrate their experiences. This kept us hopeful that our desires would also be fulfilled, thanks to Guruji. "But when?" was the question that troubled us. On the other side, things were improving. My wife's job became permanent in November 1998. She took Guruji's blessings before the interview and was the only candidate among a lot of 42 to be selected. Our financial condition was also improving.

I and my wife were continuing to get treatment for infertility, without much success. The doctor had suggested a few attempts at Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI), although she was not hopeful it would work for us. She had stated that this would be followed by attempts at In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), an expensive procedure. Meanwhile, I received a message from my company that I had been shortlisted for an entrance exam for an Executive MBA Program. The duration of the program was to be one year starting June 2000. I was in two minds as regards attempting the entrance exam. My wife was vehemently and vocally against appearing for the entrance. I asked her to leave the decision to Guruji. She stated, "What if He says yes? The treatment will stop for one year." Still, on our next visit, I gathered courage to go up to Guruji and ask Him whether I should go for the exam. Guruji responded, saying: "Such chances come only once in a lifetime. You should go for it." I told my wife of Guruji's decision; she was unhappy.

I appeared for the exam. Before the actual list of selected candidates was circulated, several rumour lists were doing the rounds. My name was not there in any of the rumour lists. I told my wife about the absence of my name in these lists. This relieved her.

Meanwhile, the doctor decided to make a last IUI attempt on 2 June 2000. She stated that she was not hopeful and would want us to go for IVF after this attempt. I informed my office that I would be coming late on that day. After the sample collection and initial check that day, the laboratory in-charge called me and told me that the sample was not good and I had to give a repeat sample. I called up my office and conveyed that I would get late further and may not come to the office at all. I was instructed to make it to the office howsoever late I may get. I gave a repeat sample and after arranging for my wife's return home, left for my office. On reaching the office, I was told that I had been selected for the Executive MBA and acceptance for joining the course was to be given within three days. The next day, we went for Guruji's darshan. I broke the news of my selection to the MBA program to Guruji. (My illusion: as if anybody can ever break news to The Omnipresent). He smiled and said, "Phir te kalyan ho gaya." (Then, you have been blessed). I thought, "I have told Guruji about my selection and He is saying, I have been blessed with happiness. This is but obvious." But what Guruji actually meant was not obvious to us. We were to discover that in a few days.

I joined the Institute at Gurgaon for the program. After the first module, I went back home. We went for darshan that evening. While returning, my wife asked me to buy a pregnancy test kit. And the meaning of Guruji's statement became obvious to us the next morning, when my wife tested positive for pregnancy. The last attempt at IUI, under tough circumstances, had turned out successful, thanks to Guruji. Both of us were overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. We were in tears and were repeatedly kissing Guruji's photographs for a long, long while. We went to Guruji that evening. I touched His lotus feet and was about to speak (once again trying to break the news to the Omnipresent) when He motioned me to keep quiet. "I know," He said.

My wife went through her pregnancy period quite comfortably in spite of my absence. She was able to get a house in her college campus during that phase, which helped her do away with the strain of travelling. She gave birth to a boy on 31 January 2001. After completion of the baby's first 40 days, we took the infant to Guruji for His blessings. That day at the time of giving us chhutti (leave), Guruji asked my wife "Poonam Aunty, hor munda laina hai (Do you want another son?)" She was taken by surprise and did not answer.

Guruji repeated this question to my wife on every visit we made. She never answered but kept wondering during our drives back home how she could go through the medical procedure once again and that too with such a small child to care of. She said Guruji must be joking.

After completion of my MBA in June 2001, I got transfer orders for Rajbandh (a place close to Durgapur in West Bengal). It was not possible for me to move at that time, considering the young child and other responsibilities at Delhi. I pleaded with my company seniors, but no one was prepared to help. Disheartened by the apathy of my seniors, I was considering moving to the new posting without my family, after making arrangements in Delhi for their stay. We went for Guruji's darshan on the evening. That day the last of the seniors I had been requesting had said 'no' to me. That day too, Guruji asked the same question to my wife: "Poonam aunty, hor munda laina hai?" She promptly spoke, "How will I get another son if my husband goes on a posting?" Guruji smiled and said, "This is really a technical problem. Let me cancel his transfer." We touched His lotus feet and went back home. Two days later, one of my senior officers called up and said: "You have been talking of your inability to move. Why don't you write your request out and fax it to me? I will see what can be done about it." I knew who had put the thought in his mind. I continued in Delhi for another two years after that, after rejoining the office on Guruji's birthday, 7 July 2001.

Guruji continued to put the same question to my wife. One evening in April 2002, she answered, "As you please." The pregnancy test done the next day was positive. This time, it had happened without any medical procedure. During the course of this pregnancy, my wife once mentioned to me that she wanted a daughter this time and would ask Guruji for the same. On our next visit, as she was about to make the request to Guruji while touching His lotus feet, He spoke first: "First time, a son and next time also a son." She had her answer and, of course, another son was born to us on 1 December 2002. Guruji christened the second son Ishuk.

After the birth of our second child, Guruji asked my wife once whether she was planning to pursue a PhD. She replied saying that it was too difficult to manage with two children. Guruji repeated the suggestion to her, adding "Do you know PhD means, 'Paagal hone ka dar (fear of turning insane)'."

Again, the reason behind this suggestion became obvious to us only much later when I got transferred to Mumbai. The only way my wife could join me was by taking leave for doing a PhD. On getting my transfer orders, I went to seek Guruji's blessings and told Him of my transfer. He told me to go ahead. I spent one year in Mumbai without my family. During this phase, we visited Guruji a few times. During one of these visits, Guruji told me: "You take your family along or else I will give you one more son." We took the hint and my wife applied for her PhD registration, which happened against all odds in a record short time, thanks to Guruji. As a result, my family could join me in Mumbai.

Accidents averted on the road and the tarmac

In September 1999, I had gone to Shimla with my wife, driving my car. I have never been a good driver thanks to my habit of daydreaming. While we were returning from Shimla, we had a stopover at Chandigarh. The next morning, we started later than planned and that was bearing heavily on my mind, prompting me to drive faster than my usual speed. We ran into a traffic jam between Ambala and Karnal. Our car was behind an earthmover and there were several cars behind us. I was anxious to go ahead but unable to do so as only one side of the road was operative and the broad-bodied earthmover was blocking the view of the traffic coming from the other side. My wife was sitting beside me in the front, her eyes closed, listening to shabads on her Walkman.

The earthmover was moving at a very slow pace. After following the earthmover for a while, my patience gave way and I sped the car to the right side of the earthmover, intending to overtake it. Just as the car came parallel to the earthmover and I sighted the traffic coming from the other side, I was scared to find another earthmover racing into us only a few metres away, with just a few inches between the two earthmovers. The idea of the car and us being torn apart by the approaching earthmover (which brakes very slowly) and the noise of the crews of both earthmovers shouting at me sent a chill down my spine. My wife opened her eyes and looked at me and both of us could not do anything but remember Guruji. Suddenly, I could sight a gap in the divider on our right and I swerved the car through the gap on to the non-operational side of the road. Who else but Guruji could have saved us like that?

During February 2000, while I was on duty at the airport, continuing from the night shift through the morning shift, I went for supervising the refuelling of a Boeing 707 aircraft. I found that the ground technician of the aircraft was working on the engine, with its flap open and our refuelling staff were waiting for him to come and get the refuelling started. I went to the technician, but he said there was a lot of other work to be done and he was all alone attending to the aircraft. Even the securing arm of the engine flap was not working and he had had to make it rest on the step-ladder while working on the engine. I heard him patiently and requested that he get the refuelling started and then continue attending to his work. He told me to go to the re-fueller and that he would follow soon. Just as I turned to go, he shifted his stance on the step-ladder (not in my sight) and the flap of the engine dropped from the rest it was on and started falling down on me. I caught a glimpse of the flap approaching me with great momentum for a fraction of a second and remembered Guruji. The flap struck my forehead and blood oozed out. I was conscious and was driven to the airport doctor. He looked at the wound and said, "God has saved you. A centimetre up or a centimetre down and the injury could have been fatal." This time too, I knew the 'God' who had saved me.

Saved in flooded Mumbai

On the day of the Mumbai floods, 26 July 2005, I was attending office, when the news of very heavy rain became known to me. Some of the employees left early knowing that train services were getting disrupted. I went through my office work and came out at the usual time. By then, the employees who had left early to catch the trains had started returning to the office as the train service had come to a halt.

I had come to the office on that day by my car and was in two minds: should I stay put or try to reach home? One of my colleagues came to me and told said that his son was stuck in school, which was on our way to home. That decided it for me. I remembered Guruji and headed for home, with a stopover planned at the school of my colleague's son. As we tried to leave office, one of the gates was already submerged and a car had broken down in front of it. We went out through the other gate. The roads were under water and it was difficult to get through. Somehow braving the water and the jams, we reached a point near the school of my colleague's son in about two hours. I parked the car at a convenient point, which was at a higher level than the road. I stayed in the car while the colleague went to check on his son.

He returned back in about 45 minutes and said that as the buses were not plying, the school had made arrangements for the overnight stay of the students at the school. He said that since the child was comfortable in the company of his classmates and our ability to reach home was doubtful, he had decided to let the child be at the school only for the night. We decided to continue trying to reach home. As we moved on to the road, we found that the water had come to such a height that it was not possible to drive through. Then, we thought of returning to the office and attempted going back, but the water level prevented us. Ultimately, I decided to park the car at the same high point where I had parked it when my colleague had gone to his son's school. I gave a call to my wife to tell her that I would not be coming home that night. We slept in the car and next day I drove the car back home slowly as the water kept receding. On reaching home in the evening, I found that all the cars parked in the residential complex had been submerged in water during the night and required major repairs amounting to tens of thousands of rupees per car. The same had happened to the cars parked at the office.

The media spoke of people who had slept in their cars on the road getting killed because the water level rose, trapping the occupants, who were unable to pull down the window glass panes or open the doors, inside. But no harm had come to me on that eventful night and neither had my car been damaged. All because of the One whom I had remembered just before leaving office. Only Guruji's kripa could have saved me that night and it did.

It would not be out of place to mention that one of my father's friends, an accomplished astrologer, had told me during the phase when we did not have any children that I would get my first child only at the age of 41. He had also stated that I would have a son - that too only after two daughters. The predictions of this astrologer have hardly ever gone wrong. When I asked him after Guruji blessed us with children, the first one when I was 37 and younger one when I was 39, how his prediction had gone wrong, he replied that astrology can only tell how your destiny has been decided by God. But a mahapurush like Guruji, who is God personified in today's world, he continued, has the power to rewrite destiny. So, there is no doubt that the one who has the power to rewrite our destinies is God Himself.

The above is a summary of my experiences with Guruji, my God. I close this with expression of my gratitude and reverence towards Him. Om Shri Guru Devaye Namah. May Guruji continue to shower us and all His disciples with good fortune and good sense and may we always remain worthy of being His disciples. Jai Guruji.

Guruji's Grace continues...

(Updated on March 2008)

In February 2007, on a visit to Delhi, I went to have Guruji's darshan. As I was about to bow before Him before taking His leave, Guruji said, "Tu Delhi wapas aa gaya hain (Have you come back to Delhi)?" I replied "Nahin Guruji, halli te Bombay hee haan (No, I am still in Bombay)." Guruji pointed to another person and said that He was talking about that man. But this was indication enough for me (now having some sense of how disciples' wishes were granted) that I would get my long-awaited transfer to Delhi. I got my transfer orders to Delhi in the end of March 2007. I joined the Delhi office after a month and moved my family to Delhi on 26 May 2007. We were fortunate enough to have His darshan a day later.

On 31 May 2007, when I came to know of Guruji's decision to leave His body, I was shattered. Returning from Bada Mandir, I kept on thinking of the innumerable occasions when Guruji had blessed us with all that was not our due and that we were not even worthy of. What will happen now? Who will take care of us? These questions crossed my mind, and I did not have an answer. The One who had always answered all our demands, doubts and prayers had the answers to these questions. I was to learn about this in a few days.

I had been participating in an inter-corporate business simulation competition with my team in 2005 and 2006. We qualified for the national finals, by winning the regional preliminaries and regional finals, and were ranked fifth in the national finals. For 2007, the regional preliminary round was slated for 1-2 June in Delhi.

But, after Guruji's mahasamadhi, I felt I could not continue. I called up my teammates and told them that I was a much weaker person now and that they should not rely on me. One of them consoled me, saying that the Guru does not ever desert a disciple, even after leaving His own body. I, however, did not believe him because I was grief stricken.

Our team somehow managed to get through the initial four rounds of the regional preliminaries. In the final round, we took risky decisions so that we could have a shot at the regional finals. The results came, and we were told that we had not qualified for the regional finals. I pulled out Guruji's photograph from my pocket and said, "This is what is expected to happen now. "Aap (Guruji) ke rahte hue, baat kuchh aur thi (When You were around, it was different)." As I was looking at Guruji's smiling face in the photograph, my teammate who was checking the results, said, "They have not fed our decisions correctly into the computer." We went to the organizers and told them of the mistake. After corrections were made, we were found to have qualified for the regional finals. After that, our team did not look back and stood second in the national finals on 6 June 2007 and subsequently second in the Asia-Pacific Region finals in September 2007. Guruji had thus told us in no uncertain terms that He and His Grace are still with the Sangat.

On the personal front, I was worried about getting admission for our sons in some good school. We were trying through different contacts for this but not to much avail. Ultimately, I remembered Guruji and asked Him: "When you have given us these two sons, why don't you get them admission in a good school?" The question was answered faster than it was asked. The children got admission in a top-class school in Delhi, without any donation or political influence.

When we had arrived in Delhi, we did not have a place from where me and my wife could attend our jobs and also look after our children, aged 4 and 6 years. The only way out was for my wife to get a flat within her college, but none of the residents was close to retirement and there were several lecturers senior to her (the flats are allotted as per the seniority of the applicants). This time too the miracle we needed occurred. A resident vacated a flat as his son found it inconvenient to travel to a far-off school. Strangely, none of the lecturers senior to my wife applied for the flat. Who else but Guruji can make miracles happen as and when they suit the desires and demands of any member of the Sangat?

May Guruji continue to shower us and all His disciples with good fortune and good sense.

Jai Guruji!

Aakash Sethi, Senior Manager (Training & Development), Indian Oil Corporation, Mumbai

March 2008