How shabads transformed me

Amit Gandhi, November 2016
It was my wife, Anjali, who first heard of Guruji via friends over social media. In early 2013, she found out that her cousins knew of some guru from Delhi. She was very curious as she had heard of miracles attributed to Him. I was a senior banker and my first impression was not positive, as the TV and media had shown up so many pundits and gurus to be frauds. Furthermore, I was very egoistical. When I'd need God, I thought, I would go to the mandir.

I worked for an American bank between March 1989 and December 2013 in various locations India, UK, UAE, and South Africa. At the end of September 2012, I was supposed to move to Dubai for a senior position. I was so confident about my transfer that I moved my family first to Dubai, hoping to join them shortly. Discussions regarding my transfer continued; however, due to internal politics, the transfer to Dubai was stalled and the location changed to Istanbul. My ego got in the way of accepting the new location.

I took a voluntary retirement package in December 2013 and moved to Dubai to stay with my family. Instead of looking for a job immediately, I requested my wife to book a holiday to Delhi. Though she was initially against it, she bowed to my pressure. I assured her that getting a job was a piece of cake: I had lots of experience and was well-networked. However, Anjali took a promise from me to visit Guruji's Bade Mandir in the outskirts of Delhi. I reluctantly agreed.

While in Delhi, Anjali's cousin invited us to dinner. Over dinner we learnt, how Guruji had helped his father-in-law Shri Ashok Kumar Chawla recover from multiple myeloma, a disease which causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow. I listened to this testament of faith, but conveniently ignored it. I believe this was Guruji's second hint to us; the first being the various discussions held with my wife.

I was troubled with my joblessness and contacted a couple of astrologers in India. One gave me a Shree Yantra and instructed me to donate milk and food on certain days. I could not, however, get the Shree Yantra to Dubai in January. Customs thought I was a practitioner of black magic. They confiscated the Yantra along with my Hanuman and Shri Maha Laxmi Chalisas. It was an inauspicious beginning.

Back in Dubai, I applied for jobs. Through an old contact, I found a consulting opportunity with one of the top four technology companies in India. I visited Bangalore for the offer. I thought of visiting Delhi again and planned a small rendezvous to Mussoorie with my wife. However, my father was hospitalized in Delhi for a surgery of the gall bladder while I was in Bangalore. Two attempts were made to remove his gall bladder, but the surgery was not successful. The day after I reached Delhi, the surgery was successful - as if the doctors were waiting for me to come to Delhi, as if - in hindsight - I was the bearer of Guruji's blessings.

The trip to Mussoorie was cancelled. Having stayed away for so long from my parents, I was given the opportunity by Guruji, I now realise, to take care of my father and spend time with my parents. During this time, I did not bother about my job. I kept ignoring Anjali's requests to go the Mandir and mentioned that I needed a much-deserved break after working for 25 years. We returned to Dubai towards the end of March.

How a prospective tenant found me a job

I started looking around for jobs again. I did not get a single return call or response, including those from long-known associates. I consoled myself and my wife with the thought that it was difficult to get a job relevant to my seniority level at a short notice. My wife - thanks to Guruji's grace - continued to support me fully. I had consulted another astrologer and now applied his remedy of donating milk and food and conducting daily prayers. Finally, it seems to me, Guruji decided to take matters into His own hand, though I had repeatedly ignored going to His Mandir. In April 2014, without realising that anything new or special was happening, a subtle change occurred in our devotional routine. My daily prayers continued as before, but with the addition of "Om Namah Shivay" without any external suggestion. My wife and I went to the Jebel Ali Gurudwara Sahib in Dubai for 40 days continuously. We'd stay for 20 minutes to an hour and would listen to the shabads. We'd take langar and chai for distribution to the Gurudwara, in line with astrological advice.

Our daughter, in the meantime, was upset with me. She decided to move to the UK to complete her higher studies. The house where we were living in Bur Dubai was in her name, and when she left, around May 2014, we thought of moving to Delhi. We approached the estate agent to discuss the handover process. The tenancy contract was due to expire in mid-August 2014. We wanted to serve two months' notice as per the contract and be refunded rent for 45 days. We thought this would be good enough to get us through a whole year in India, at least as far as food was concerned. The estate agent was not helpful and wanted to refund only half months' rent. We decided to dig in and stay back until the contract expired.

Man proposes, and God disposes. Guruji had other plans for us. We had communicated our intent to the estate agent, but prospective tenants kept coming to the apartment. The tenth prospective tenant visited us on 7th May 2014. I happened to be at home, while all the other times I was out. Anjali attended to the visitor and showed him around the apartment. Over casual conversation, she found that he used to live very close to our earlier house in London, that he was also a banker and had recently moved to a local bank in the UAE. Anjali introduced me immediately.

We ended up discussing my situation for half an hour. He mentioned that he had some opportunities in his bank and asked for my CV. I sent it to him the next day. Anjali was very impatient, as the visitor had promised me a job after receiving my CV. But at 5:30 in the evening, the phone rang. It was our recent acquaintance. Addressing him as brother, Anjali asked him if he was taking the property on rent, while he wondered if she wanted him to give her husband a job or pick up the tenancy. Within a week, by Guruji's grace, I had the job in hand but could not join office till the hiring process was completed.

At the end of May, we went back to Delhi while my UAE visa was getting sorted out. My wife reminded me of my promise about taking her to the Mandir. When we reached Delhi, at the first available opportunity, she forced me to go to Bade Mandir. But it was a Tuesday and the Mandir was closed. I was happy in a way.

We visited Bade Mandir again a few weeks later along with our domestic help on a Friday. We had a good darshan, got the chance to visit Guruji's samadhi and spent time in the main hall. When it was time for langar I was uncomfortable with sharing a meal among four people. I prayed that I would not have to eat with strangers. As it turned out, Anjali and I found ourselves seated in chairs, while our domestic help ate with the sangat. I was very relieved. I thanked God and Guruji.

We got another chance to visit Bade Mandir just before Guruji's birthday. The Mandir was closed for non-sewadaars and I sat inside the car, while my wife and my mom went in. They called out to me to come in, but - whether it was my ego or just plain stubbornness - I refused to go inside. My mom and Anjali had darshan as well as langar and chai prasad.

I came back to Dubai in August, by which time all the hiring formalities were complete and joined the office. Anjali joined me a month later. We learnt that Guruji's satsangs took place in the city, and Anjali connected with devotees Rajiv and Seema Kapoor, who were kind enough to assign us car sewa for the first satsang we attended in November 2014. My initial reaction to the satsangs was okay.

I began developing a relationship with Guruji through satsangs and shabads. I found it difficult to understand the shabads, but since Guruji had recommended that they need to be listened to (rather than mentally or intellectually grasped), I continued to listen to the gurbani. Some of these shabads elaborated on the poetic messages of the great seers via vyakhayas (descriptions), which helped me understand their meanings. The shabads rendered by Harbans Singh and Chamanjeet Singh Lal made my life much easier.

I stop eating meat and drinking - thanks to a shabad and a satsang

The spark in my connection with Guruji came on 6th March 2015—the day we had satsang at our place, which was also the occasion of Holi.

By this time, Anjali, earlier an avid meat eater, had become vegetarian and given up having the occasional drink at get-togethers. She wanted me to follow suit. However, I stood my ground. I told her that I would not do away with eating meat or my single malts. I brought even Guruji to the argument. I sad that He never stopped anyone from enjoying life - which I took as partying, including drinking and eating meat.

I only got the message a year later, though, when we were in Delhi.

On a Sunday of April 2016, I received a video clipping of a shabad titled "Keo Murgi Maarey" from my co-brother, who is a devotee of Guru Nanak-ji and a visitor at Bade Mandir. I viewed the clipping and then saw the video on "YouTube" immediately. Though I was sleepy, the video made me restless. As soon as I got up on Monday morning, I downloaded the video. My aunty and I left for "Bade Mandir" around 4pm. Before we left, I had listened to the audio at least five times and shared the same with my wife and in-laws. While driving to the Mandir, I listened to the shabad again and within two minutes, I promised my wife that I would be adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. My wife could not believe her ears and asked me about my decision a few times before I saw a smile on her face. She then questioned me about alcohol. I told her that my decision was regarding meat-eating alone. I was convinced after listening to the shabad that eating meat was not what a human should do.

At this point, I remembered what Guruji used to say about listening to shabads. He wants you to listen fully to the holy songs - these are His tuitions to us - and connect with Him; all corrections follow once you start listening to the shabads.

In Delhi, we soon received invitations for three more satsangs and could attend two of them. At the satsang in Kirti Nagar at devotee Shri Arora's house, we felt Guruji's presence and shared our experience. Shri Arora shared how he had stopped drinking after getting Guruji's blessings. As soon as he completed his satsang, my wife asked me to quit as well. I was convinced and decided to stop drinking then and there.

I actually could have done so right after listening to the Keo Murgi Maarey shabad, but as humans, we tend to be selfish. I wanted to continue to relish my single malts. However, Guruji gave me His blessings via a specific satsang. And Guruji, being the Supreme Father, did not get upset with His mean son, who was full of avguns (undesirable characteristics). Thank you, Guruji.

Since connecting with Guruji, my life has been completely transformed. He has shown me the path to salvation. Since the day we hosted a satsang in our house, the shabads have been my constant inspiration. I have found that Guruji guides all of us at every step of life. We just need to keep our eyes and ears open. When we come for a satsang, we must listen to the shabads carefully. You will get messages that are meant for you only. Nothing happens by chance. Everything is pre-determined and will happen according to His will. Jai Guruji, Jai Guruji.

Bin bhaagaa satsang na labhai

In Dubai, satsangs happen every Friday from 11:30 in the morning. But with personal days (such as birthdays or anniversaries) coming up satsangs can take place consecutively at various venues from Thursday to Saturday. Last year, we thought of having a week of satsangs. Thanks to Guruji's grace, this devotional wish was transformed into a beautiful seven-day journey with Guruji.

I have been attending satsangs in Dubai since November 2014, though I had my first darshan of Guruji in March 6, 2015—and I received special blessings during these seven days.

I work for a local bank that was going through a merger with another local bank. Employees of both organizations were uncertain about retaining their jobs. However, Guruji had already taken care of me. Three days before the satsangs were to start—on a Monday, November 7—I received an email from my manager's boss confirming my appointment in the new entity's Integration Management Office. My appointment was effective from a week later and assured me of at least another year's stay in Dubai. I was extremely thankful to Guruji.

On the day the satsang was going to be held, I met with an accident while driving back from office. Fortunately, it was not a major mishap; however, my car was damaged the most as it had come between two cars. I mentally complained to Guruji: "Kithe phasaa dita mainu, hun satsang miss ho jayega." (Where have You got me stuck? I won't be able to attend the satsang now.) I never like coming late for satsangs, my aim always being to welcome Guruji to the venue. And, thanks to Guruji, I have always managed to attend satsangs from the beginning—when the welcome tune is played for Guruji—to the aarti.

My unvoiced complaint was heard. The three of us involved in the accident agreed to defer going to the police station till the next morning. Hence, I was able to reach the satsang at least three minutes before the welcome tune was played.

Such is Guruji's greatness. You need to hand over the reins of your life to Him and trust Him unreservedly.

That same morning, a devotee had a vision of me doing jal prasad sewa during a satsang. Hence, in consultation with other devotees, I was asked to distribute jal and chai prasad. I was told about the vision later.

It seemed to me that the accident, the conditions at my bank and the satsang were all related. Through the accident and the sewa, I believe, Guruji had removed a big obstacle from my life and made my job in the bank steady for the next one to two years.

Despite daily challenges I found I could attend all the seven satsangs. I believe Guruji wants me to focus on His satsangs. As it is, it is only when Guruji desires a devotee to come to his satsang that one can attend it. "Bin bhaagaa satsang na lab hai bin sangat mail bhareejai jee": a satsang cannot be attended if it is not divinely ordained; and without it, people cannot get rid of their stains. Our aim during satsangs, hence, must be to remove ourselves of our bad tendencies, or "avguns".

When we come for satsangs, we must listen to the shabads carefully. Guruji pours His blessings into us through the divine word of the Guru.

Most of us share their share of blessings at the end of each satsang. This is a means of saying thanks, but in Guruji's hands it turns into a powerful instrument of blessings. I believe we must not wait for any miracle to happen in our lives. If nothing is going wrong in our life, it is the biggest blessing that we have received from Guruji. He is taking care of you without your even realising it. Please remember that no one has gone ahead on this journey; we have simply begun our spiritual journeys on different dates.

Guruji guides us at every step of life. Nothing happens by chance. Everything is pre-determined and will happen according to His will. We just need to keep our eyes and ears open. Jai Guruji!

Though I have taken due care in describing my blessings, I ask for forgiveness from Guruji in case I have misstated any of the above.

Amit Gandhi, a devotee

November 2016