For a singer, Guruji strings notes of life together

Sada Masoom Thakur, June 2010
For the last two years, a friend, Nutan, had been telling me to accompany her to Bade Mandir for Shivratri. Nutan runs a beauty parlour and whenever I'd go there she would tell me lots of things regarding Guru Kirpa. But I kept on postponing my trip. Perhaps Guruji had not ordained it so because the time for this momentous meeting with my Lord had not yet arrived.

Another reason was my husband's unwillingness to go to any saint or baba, though I had been the devotee of a saint since 1997. I was also so devoted to Shirdi Sai Baba that I felt there was no need to go anywhere else. Every Thursday, I used to sing in Sai Baba's Mandir.

First meeting: A golden connection with an Om pendant

Won over by Nutan's wonderful description of Guruji, I too wanted to have His darshan. But I knew that taking my husband, Masoom, along would not be easy. I hit upon a plan. On my birthday in 2006, which falls on 4th August, I told my husband that I would like to celebrate the occasion in my own manner. I got an early promise from him that he would go wherever I took him and would eat whatever I offered him. I did not lose a single minute in ringing up Nutan, who told me to pick her up from her place at 6.45 pm, as we planned to go together to Guruji. Usually, I do not sleep during day time, but that day I fell asleep as soon as I finished my household chores. I dreamt that Guruji was sitting on a high seat and saw Om and Ek Omkar symbols nearby. There was a golden eagle flying around Guruji. Later in the evening, when Nutan sat in my car I told her about my dream. She exclaimed with delight: Guruji was happy with me and had given me darshan even before I met Him.

When we arrived at Chhota Mandir, Guruji was sitting on a wooden sideboard near the kitchen. Nutan told Guruji that she had brought a friend of hers. Guruji, in His easy style, asked in Punjabi, "Pakki ke kachhi" (Is she a fast or fair-weather friend?) She replied that I was her sincere friend. Guruji asked about our profession: "Ki karde ne" (What do you do for a living) We replied that we were professional singers. Guruji further asked me, "Kiho jia gande ho (How well do you sing)?" Laughingly, we replied that He would come to know when He agreed to hear us.

Soon, we were given tea prasad. I felt that I had taken amrit (heavenly drink). My throat had been sour, but as I drank the prasad, the pain began disappearing. Later, Guruji went into His room and, after a short while, returned clad in a beautiful long dress. A continuous stream of shabad-kirtan was flowing out into the sangat hall. The devotees kept pouring in. My husband and children were feeling uneasy about my choice of venue for a birthday celebration. Matters became worse as langar was served and was to be shared amongst four people. My younger son refused to eat anything. We concluded our langar and sought Guruji's permission to leave. Guruji said, "Aish karo, aunty (enjoy yourself)." He also told my husband to get a piece of gold of a specific weight in the shape of an Om. In our ignorance, we thought that Guruji must be asking for gold from everyone and making lots of money. Such ideas came to our minds because whosoever baba or guru we had visited earlier had just one aim: making money.

I talked to Nutan about it, and she instructed us to comply with Guruji's wishes. On Thursday, when we gave the golden Om to Guruji, He wanted to know my husband's date of birth. Then He told us that my husband should wear it round his neck. I, in my stupidity, dared to ask Guruji if I would also get some thing. Guruji remarked, "O, kamli, ekko hi connection haiga" (There's only one connection.) It was beyond my understanding. I, who had come with great devotion, did not get anything and, on the other hand, my husband who did not have any faith had been blessed with Om. Then Guruji asked my husband where he hailed from. My husband replied that he belonged to Jammu. Guruji turned His face towards me and asked whether I was a sardarni belonging to areas around Ambala and Chandigarh? I wondered how Guruji knew that because even Nutan was not aware of this fact.

As we sang, He blessed us

As time passed, we began visiting Chhota Mandir on Saturdays or Sundays. One day Guruji told my husband, "Baaja lai aa; aaj tera gaana suniye" (bring you musical instruments; let's hear songs fromn you today.) My husband replied that the instrument was at home and we lived in Gurgaon. At this Guruji retorted, "Gurgaon kera Pakistan hai. Chuk lai aa baja te aunty nu itthe chad de (Gurgaon isn't Pakistan. Leave your wife here and go home to bring your instruments)." My husband did start for home, but cast such an angry look at me that I feared there would be some trouble at home at night.

My husband brought the musical instrument so soon that I was certain he must have driven the car at an unusually high speed. After we had langar and when only a few devotees were left, Guruji asked us to sing. I sang a shabad and Guruji appeared to be pleased. He told my husband to sing a ghazal and he did so. Then Guruji turned towards me and I sang another devotional song. Next, Guruji wanted to hear some old song of Lata Mangeshkar. I was not prepared for that and was wondering what to sing.

Just then my eyes suddenly fell on a song in the list I had prepared, "Tumhi mere mandir, Tumhi meri puja, Tumhi devta..." And I sang it. Guruji was pleased and said that my voice was melodious. His words were: "Kudi di awaz bari mitthi hai" (She has a sweet voice.) We sang ghazals, duets, and so on. It went on like this for months. We could not know why Guruji always made us sit and asked us to sing in His presence. He actually blessed us thus. He would always say words to the effect: "Uncle, bring the instrument; don't you want to make hit songs and cut albums?"

Before we had met Guruji, we were facing a serious financial crisis; our children had also turned disobedient. Relations between us were deteriorating. My husband never paid heed to my advice. If I would turn to the east, he would turn west. We had been doing whatever was suggested to us by priest, babas and all, but with no improvement in our situation. Our relatives had turned us down. We were always full of tension, as our lenders were constantly asking for their money.

The Guru is Baba, Brahma and Bhagwant

I had lost all interest in life and wanted to get rid of a life full of tensions. One day, disappointed from all sides, I sat in a corner of Chhota Mandir, weeping and cursing myself. I thought that all my prayers were in vain. First of all, I worshipped Lord Krishna and then Sai Baba and then I was sitting here at the feet of Guruji. Why was I doing all this and what for? What would I get from here? Of course, I got peace of mind for some time but the moment I came out of the temple, the same worries regarding financial matters would grip my mind. I thought that either the worship of God was a futile venture and all my prayers were fruitless, or that I was unable to stick to any one thing and went about like a rolling stone. If I didn't get anything at one place, I immediately changed my object of worship in a selfish manner. There were thousands of doubts.

Suddenly, this shabad began playing: "Guru meri pooja, Guru Govind; Guru mera par braham, Guru bhagwant." The soft and low sound of a flute could be heard in between the song. At once, there was a miraculous change: just in front of me, I saw Lord Krishna, instead of Guruji, playing upon the flute. Then I saw Guruji Himself playing upon the pipe. Then, in Guruji's seat, I saw Sai Baba wearing a crown. For a moment, I was at my wit's end. I thought that it might have been a trick of my imagination. I looked all around myself. The devotees were sitting with their eyes closed and were lost in a sort of samadhi. I wanted to ask them whether what I had seen was a dream or reality, but I could not muster enough courage. After langar, I disclosed my strange experience to my husband. He told me that he had also experienced something like that. In fact, Guruji, through these visions, had just made it clear to us that He was everything-He was Parbrahm as well as Bhagwant. My faith in Guruji became very firm.

We had to remain out of the house during the day in connection with our music programmes, and my husband did not think it proper to leave children alone at home day after day and come back very late at night. Then one day he declared that he would not go to Guruji unless he earned enough money and set himself a specific sum as a target.. This was in December 2006. And, with Guruji's grace, by February 2007, we had earned the sum. Accordingly, he said that we should go to Guruji. I thanked God. The moment we were at Guruji's lotus feet, He said in Punjabi, "Oye kiddar gayab ho gia see; aanda riha kar (Where had you disappeared? Keep coming regularly)." My husband replied that he could not come as he had his programmes on Friday and Saturday. And Guruji said: "Bhai, tu jere marzi din aa, par aaya kar (You can come on any day you like, but do come)."

Soon, Shivratri came. Guruji asked us to come on that sacred day with our instruments. He heard our songs on the occasion and blessed us wholeheartedly. It was around 3 in the morning, and my husband was thinking of going home to enjoy his beer. The same instant Guruji looked at him and said, "Teri sugar thik kar ditti hai. Kal ja ke beer da peg laga lena (I have cured your diabetes; you can have beer tomorrow)." My husband was amazed.

As far as I was concerned, I was thinking that Guruji had remarked that my voice was very sweet but no opportunities were coming my way. We came back home and the very next day I got a call from Mumbai for an offer to sing with Shaan, the singer, in a Sindhi film. This was such an amazing response to the question I had!

Guruji gets my husband a new haircut, instrument and career

On the health front, I was not keeping too well and would suffer from migraine. I used to get terrible body pains when exposed to sudden temperature changes. Hence, when I would sit in the Mandir's air-conditioned hall I would be in a miserable condition. On Baisakhi, Guruji told us to come to Bade Mandir. Guruji appeared pleased to hear us sing that night. When we sought permission to leave, Guruji spoke the words which I will never forget for the whole of my life. He said, "Aunty, I have blessed you. From today you will never have any bodily pains." I was surprised to hear these words. I had never talked to Him about my body aches. Since then, I have never had such body pains. I had hardly gathered a few drops of devotion and Guruji's love and care were raining!

We did not get any assignments from March to May. It was my husband's habit that he would start complaining against me as well as Guruji if we had no work. He would say, "If Guruji knows every thing why can't he send us some work? He sees us suffering and yet does not help us." Guruji, the omniscient, would listen to it all and still never got annoyed.

One day Guruji cast His merciful glance at us and told us to perform some puja. We did it regularly and in accordance with His directions. Later, He told us to get a new musical instrument and also told my husband to get rid of his long hair.

Purchasing a new musical instrument posed a financial problem for us. Guruji at first spoke about the instrument mildly. Then, He scolded my husband saying, "Uncle, tell me, have you brought a new baja?" Finally, fearing Guruji's wrath, my husband decided to go in for a new harmonium. First, he got his haircut. But as soon as he looked into the mirror, he shouted at me. His stylish look had been spoilt, he felt.

Yet when we went to the mandir, everybody praised my husband's new hairstyle and said he was looking younger by at least ten years. Guruji was very pleased to see him in his neat hairstyle. He told him smilingly, "Tainu banda bana ditta" (I have turned you into a man) and added that my husband had looked like an animal earlier. Soon after, He scolded Masoom and asked him why he had not brought a new instrument. My husband said that there was no work and no money to purchase it. Guruji told him, "Oh kamlia, kam bathera mil jana hai. Tu baja tan le ke aa" (You fool, you will get enough work. Just get a new instrument.)

We later rang up a dealer and worked out a deal to exchange the old instrument for a new one, which would be paid for in installments. The man told us to pay Rs.500 on the spot and the rest whenever it was convenient. This was an unbelievable deal and we managed to get a new instrument without any hassle. But we could not carry the instrument to the mandir for one reason or the other.

On 27th May, I felt a compelling urge to go to bow before Guruji and I insisted that we must go to Him again; after that, if my husband didn't want to go, I would never force him to do so against his will. At last, we reached the Mandir. Guruji appeared to be very angry that day. I had never ever seen Him in that mood. But even then I could not turn my eyes away from Guruji's face. I had a strange feeling that I would never be able to come again to the lotus feet of Guruji. I was very nervous and apprehensive about the coming times. Then Guruji suddenly spoke a few words which I will never forget till the last moment of my life: "Hun mein tur jana hei; mere kol time ghat hei" (I am to go now; I don't have much time.) I mistook His words to mean that He must be going to Punjab and thought that it would be impossible for me to visit Him then. Guruji spoke to the other members of the sangat also and I have stored each word of His in my heart for ever.

Sensing Guruji's mood, I thought that He would not ask us to sing and there was no question of Guruji's referring to the new instrument. But at the same instant, He asked my husband if he had brought the new instrument. He told Guruji that he had. Then He said to my husband, "Why are you tense? I would bless your baja before leaving.. Go and quickly bring the baja." Soon after He spoke the most memorable words, "I will go only after blessing your instrument." My husband brought the instrument hurriedly. Guruji heard the songs and thus He blessed the new instrument.

"Shayad is janam mein mulakat ho na ho..."

Another special thing happened. I had prepared a few songs at home and had thought that I would sing those. But I started singing some thing else. My husband reminded me somewhat angrily that I was to sing some other number. But who can challenge Guruji's will? It was His will that decided what I would sing. At last Guruji said I should render that song of Lata Mangeshkar which I had sung at the Bade Mandir. Guruji heard the song. The second line of the song went like this, "Shayad is janam mein mulakat ho na ho (may be we will meet each other in this life no more)." Then we were told to go home. This was the last item of the day and this was the last public meeting of Guruji.

On 31st, Guruji attained mahasamadhi. I felt orphaned.

I heard that the last rites would be held in Dugri, Guruji's birthplace. My husband was not well, so we could not go. I went to the bathroom and cried away, thinking that I would not be able to go to Dugri. However, I learnt from Nutan around 8 pm that the last rites would be performed at 11.30 am the next day in Bade Mandir. I cried and thought that Guruji, even after His mahasamadhi, had granted my wish.

My husband was in a very poor state of mind. He repented that he could not connect to the Lord though He was before us in a human form. Guruji had transformed Him.

The golden connection is re-established

This incident is of two days before Guruji's mahasamadhi. I had come out after my bath when I saw rainbow-like rays coming out of the Om locket my husband was wearing. The locket was the same one which Guruji had blessed. I thought light may be reflecting off the locket, but realized that no light was falling upon it. The rays fell upon my body and sent a shiver through me. I couldn't understand any thing. Later, I recalled what Guruji had said when blessing the locket: that you two have a single connection.

I remembered that Guruji had told me He would come to our house. How would Guruji come now and what would He look like?

The next day when I went to my Mandir for my morning prayers, there was a surprise waiting. The Mandir has a small photograph of the Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain. The photo has a shivling and golden snake in the middle of it. We've had the photo for a few years, but that day the snake was not visible. Instead, I could see Guru Nanak Devji's image. I could not believe my eyes. I woke my husband and asked him to come and see if he could also note this change. And he could, too. What an amazing way for Guruji to come to our home and tell us about the visit!

After the mahasamadhi, prayers from the Sukhmani Sahib continued for 40 days at the Bade Mandir. We used to go there every day. One day I slipped and fell down in the bathroom, making it difficult for us to go to the Bade Mandir. We decided that we would perform Puja at home and conclude it with kadah prasad in the evening. To compensate for the shabads, I switched on the TV and put it to the channel which telecasts Gurbani live from Amritsar. Sitting in front of Guruji's photo, I was so engrossed that I lost track of time.

My husband came back from his evening walk and asked if I had prepared the prasad. I said that I had not prepared it yet. The fragrance of the kadah prasad was all around the house, he said; I told him that our neighbours downstairs must have made some halwa. Meanwhile, the children had finished playing outside and came up. I asked them to confirm if the prasad's fragrance was coming from the neighbour's house. The children told me that our neighbours had, instead, made scrambled eggs. And it was that odour which was coming from their house, they added, the fragrance was coming from our house alone. I realized that Guruji was reminding me that I still had to make the prasad. We made the prasad hurriedly and offered it before the photograph of Guruji in our puja room. I was sure that Guruji was present in my house to bless me. Guruji was there was watching every thing. I chanted: "Agam agochara tera ant na paaya."

"Apne khasam bharosa"

On my Mumbai visit, I had learnt Buddhist chanting. A few days after Guruji had attained mahasamadhi, at about 10 at night, I was chanting with my face turned towards the wall. First, light fell upon the wall. I closed my eyes, but felt something revolving around me. Then I saw five or six wasps circling me. I didn't know what to do. One of them sat upon my arm but it didn't bite me. I switched off the light but they didn't go away. I stopped the chanting immediately, went to my bedroom, and, told every bit of the incident to my husband. It was beyond his comprehension, too. The next day when I went to Bade Mandir, I learnt that Guruji was against such chanting. Thus, at that very moment I realized that Guruji was preventing me from doing so.

Once I was playing a Shiv aarti CD and doing Guruji's aarti. I was the only person in home. Suddenly, I could hear a sound close to my left ear. It was as if someone was singing the aarti with me. That scared me, but I could not stop the aarti. I somehow concluded the aarti and bowed to Guruji. Just then, from above my left ear, a black bhanwra flew away. Immediately, I understood Guruji was here in that form, singing the aarti with me. I had been unnecessarily scared.

After a few days, we were up against a very adverse spell of time. We had taken a loan to release our CD and not only had the date for paying back the loan expired but much more time had elapsed. The man who had given us money gave us an ultimatum. He would personally come to collect the money the next day and would leave only after receiving his money. My husband became very tense; he told me to arrange for the money somehow; otherwise we would face embarrassment and public insult. I could not find any way out. We had had no work for many months; most friends had already given loans to us, and we couldn't ask for more. I didn't know where to go and what to do.

I told my husband that I would not go anywhere to beg for money; all we could do was to sit before Guruji's photograph and pray to Him. I had fully surrendered myself to my Guruji. Whether we were insulted or helped out of the impasse lay in His hands. I would beg before Guruji alone and no one else. My husband was disappointed and resignedly told me to do what I wanted and added that we should wait and see what Guruji's wishes were.

The next day arrived. The afternoon came quickly, and the evening was upon us. My husband was very upset, but I was constantly hearing a sacred shabad, 'Apne khasam bharose.' (Keep faith in the divine.)

My faith was rewarded. In the evening, a stranger called. He had been to our web site and was full of appreciation for our performances. But, since we had not been sponsored by any individual or agency, he told us that he would like to do something for us. Without imposing any pre-conditions and restraints, he undertook to sponsor our performances and make payments, too. He told us not to bother about the details and begin some musical composition immediately. He was sending money to us. We could not identify the person and we did not know his taste in music.

At 5.30 pm, a person came and said that his master had sent the money and had given the message that we should start our work immediately. When we opened the packet, to our joy we found enough to pay off all our loans. Soon, we started working for Guruji's first CD, "Hey Guruji." During this period, Guruji appeared in my dream. It was the night of Amavas and, on the morning of the first Nav Ratra (nine sacred days in which Goddess Durga is honoured), Guruji handed me a pot covered with green leaves and a coconut and then disappeared. When I woke up, my hands were cupped-as if they were actually holding a pot! When I told my husband about the darshan, he said it signifies this is a good time to start our album. The same day we received booking for ten programmes. Everything was happening in a very normal and natural way. Financially, we began doing very well and our troubles started evaporating.

Today, thanks to Guruji's grace, my husband's sugar level remains normal and I no longer suffer from any sort of body pain and have become much more active, as if the body's battery has been recharged. My children, who were weak in studies, have started scoring good marks with the grace of Guruji. Every song that we sing is offered to Guruji and my choicest one is, 'Tum jo mil gai ho to yeh lagta hai ke jahan mil gaya (Since I have met You, it seems I have attained the wealth of the whole world).'

How Guruji fills and fulfills our lives

One day, I noticed that all the perfumes I had at home were finished. I talked it over with Guruji and told Him that earlier I used to go to Dubai and get anything I wanted but now, because of my younger son, I couldn't afford to go there. I repeated the thought to Him. As I was absorbed in these thoughts, a scriptwriter from Saudi Arabia, Aftab, rang up and told me that he was coming to pay us a visit. He came with a huge packaged gift: perfume!

Earlier, when we used to wish for something, we could get it only after great effort, but now as soon as I wish for a thing it is there-because of the blessings of Guruji.

When we used to touch Guruji's lotus feet, a rare and heavenly fragrance would come off our hands. We thought that Guruji might be using some rare perfume. But on reaching home, we would inhale the same fragrance in every room. Now, after Guruji's mahasamadhi, we still feel the fragrance around us. Some times for miles and miles, when nobody is around, the all-pervading fragrance of Guruji is there-in the car, at work, or in a court of law.

In this way, Guruji, you are omnipresent! You can see, hear and help millions very moment! Your ways and means are beyond our understanding. Your grace is such that I am not competent enough to put it to words, or even to understand it, or in fact even to imagine it. My heart chants: "Hari ananta; Hari katha ananta." There is no beginning or end to Guruji. His leela is endless and beyond understanding. My heart cries out, "Guruji aap hari ho, har ho, har har maha dev ho." Everybody has seen Om, Shiva Linga and Trishul made of ashes on Guruji's samadhi. On all photographs of Guruji that are at my home, Om, the trident, and three-eyed Lord Shiva have started appearing. Sometimes we have had the darshan of various gods and goddesses on the forehead of Guruji.

In the Bade Mandir, Guruji has often given darshan to His devotees. The swing installed at the rear of the Mandir, outside His room, has been known to start swinging with great force. Many devotees have captured such darshans in their mobile cameras.

Guruji's sublimity and His glory are indescribable. He symbolizes Divine Energy and Divine Light-at once eternal, everlasting and infinite.

Guruji beautified my life and spiritualized my art. But for Him, my whole life was just rudderless. It was Guruji who gave a definite meaning, sense of purpose and direction to my life which was otherwise drifting and tossing aimlessly on the stormy high seas. My life was like a faint pencil drawing; Guruji filled it with lovely colours and gave it wonderful shape. I was a piece of useless string; then Guruji touched it with His divine hands and produced melodies. My life, which was in doldrums, suddenly acquired a new meaning and a new purpose. Our whole life-domestic, financial, professional-has miraculously turned the corner. We were just base metal and Guruji's alchemical touch turned us into gold. We were like crippled birds imprisoned in a cage. Guruji set us free, blessed us with wings, enabling us to soar in the open skies at will.

Many a time, Guruji has given darshans on the big Shiva Linga. Again and again my heart cries out, "O Guruji, be merciful to all of us and shower Your mercy upon us. Let us remain at Your Lotus feet for all times to come. O Satguru piara, mera nal hai...." It is the only thing that keeps us going.

These words always keep echoing in my ears: "mehran walia saiyan rakhein charna de kol (Guruji, you are our beloved. You are always with us. O! merciful Guruji, always keep us near your lotus feet)." Guruji you are my mother. As a mother knows whether the child is hungry or dirty, in the same way, Guruji, show mercy upon us. You alone know what is good for us. Therefore, Guruji "jaihi vidhi rakhe aap tehi vidhi rahiai" (we remain in whatsoever state you wish to keep us.) Often, I receive His messages through the sangat. In every satsang I get the solution to every problem that I have been facing. Whatever question arises in my mind, I get answers from the sangat. Guruji, aap jin ke karib hote hain, woh bade khush nasib hote hain. (Guruji, they are luckiest who are near you.)

Jai Guruji!

Sada Masoom Thakur, a devotee

June 2010