06 August 2012

Meher Baba and the Sikhs

Guru Nanak said once: “The Beloved rarely gives a lover the cup of Divine Love to drink. If He ever gives it, instantaneously the drop will become the Ocean.”
[Quoted inThe Awakener Magazine, vol. 11, no 3, p. 9]

Whosoever calls out the Lord’s name has just traversed an ocean of fear.
—Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak (1469-1538 C.E.) was the first Guru of the Sikhs and is regarded as the founder of Sikhism. Meher Baba referred to him as a God-realized Perfect Master.

On March 23, 1953, Baba gave darshan to the general public at Dehra Dun. Discourses were spontaneously dictated by Baba at that time, and taken down by Kishan Singh [see below], a devotee of Baba at whose house the darshan took place.

A number of Sikhs were among those who came and in Baba's presence were filled with love. Baba turned to one of them and asked him to repeat the favorite hymn of Guru Nanak, the Sikh Master. When the man had done so, Baba advised them to follow the meaning and spiritual significance of that hymn with understanding and love. He then added, "If, when we grow up we become like children, childlike, not childish, then we can love God; because to love God we have to be desireless, except with the one desire, the one longing, to be united with God. So when we grow up and become childlike, not childish, we can then honestly love God. We find God everywhere. Nothing can shake, alter or stop that perpetual happiness, but we must first be honest seekers of Truth.

Meher Baba said: "Great Masters have taught us to think and act in all humility. Nanakji [Guru Nanak],who was God Personified, acted as Nanak Das" [Das = servant]
 [The Awakener Magazine, vol. 1, no 2, p. 9]

Baba's favorite lines of Guru Nanak were a prayer of Nanak, "Tum thakur tumpe ardas."
[Bal Natu, Glimpses of the God-Man, Meher Baba, vol. 3, p. 141]

This prayer is found in the Sukhmani Sahib on page 268 of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Scriptures).

Tu Thaakur Tum Peh Ardas
You are our Master; to You, I offer this humble prayer.

Jeeo Pind Sabh Tayree Raas
This body and soul are all Your Belonging.

Thum Maath Pithaa Ham Baarik Thaerae
You are our mother and father; and we are your children.

Tumaree Kirpaa Meh Sukh Ghanayrey
In Your Grace, we experience ultimate Peace!

Koe N Jaanay Tumraa Unt
No one knows Your infinite vastness.

Oochay Tey Oochaa Bhagavant
O Highest of the High, Most Generous God,

Sagal Samagree Tumaray Soothr Dhaaree
The whole creation is strung on Your thread.

Tum Tey Hoe So Aageyakaaree
That which has come from You is in Your will.

Tumaree Gath Mith Tum Hee Jaanee
You alone know Your Existence and Vastness.

Nanak Daas Sadhaa Kurbaanee
Nanak, Your slave, is forever surrendering to you.

Meher Baba Visits a Sikh Shrine

On November 19 [1951], Baba was at Nanded (Nander). He paid a special visit to the shrine of Guru Gobind Singh who was the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. His great contribution lay in giving his followers the book, Guru Granthsaheb (Guide to God). . . . To counteract the aggression and harassment by the Moghul rulers, he raised a strong army. But eventually he had to flee to the Deccan Plateau. During his camping at Nanded he was fatally wounded and consequently lay aside his mortal coil. The lineage of gurus which commenced with Guru Nanak, the Perfect Master and founder of Sikhism, ended with Guru Gobind Singh. At Nanded a big shrine Gurudwara has been built in honor of Gobind Singh and the city has become an important place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs. Baba visited the Gurudwara to recharge the spiritual atmosphere. He also contacted about eight masts of high and low grades in the city.
[Bal Natu, Glimpses of the God-Man, Meher Baba, vol. 2, pp. 378-79]

Meher Baba’s Five Favorite Sikhs

The photo above shows Meher Baba with of five “favorite Sikhs” during the Hindi Sahavas in Meherabad, November 1955: Reo Virinder [Vir Inder] Singh, Paritamsingh Sahani [or Pritam Singh Sahni], Dr. Daulat Singh (seated), Professor Niranjan Singh, and Joginder Singh. For more information, see Panj Pyare: The Five Favourite Sikh Lovers of Meher Baba by D. V. Balakrishna Meher (Pune: K. K. Ramakrishnan, Avatar Meher Baba Poona Centre, 2000), which contains brief biographies of Pritam, Virinder, Niranjan, Joginder, and Daulat Singh, and which has a cover painting by Charlie Mills.

Virinder Singh
Selecting Virinder Singh of Dehra Dun [a retired police officer], Baba remarked, “See how I have caught certain Sikhs! How pleased I am with you! Guru Nanak is dear to me. The same Nanak is in the world today [i.e., Meher Baba].” [LM 13:4781]

Pritam Singh Sahni . . . was a successful businessman running a thriving trade in Thailand. Once on Buddha’s birthday, the local Buddhist people paid him much respect and greatly honored him. Pritam Singh questioned them, “Why are you felicitating me on this day?” And they replied, “You come from the land where our Lord Buddha was born.” [LM 8: 2830]

An “intellectual giant” . . . named Sardar Niranjan Singh, called “Niranjan,” . . . was the principal of Camp College at Punjab University, and was present at several places where Baba gave darshan. One day his wife, who was a staunch, orthodox believer in Guru Nanak and had no faith in any other divine being, stopped him from going. Yet in Meher Baba, Niranjan had literally seen his Guru Nanak. He was dizzy and could not believe his eyes when this phenomenon occurred. At times he would see Baba as Nanak, and at times as Baba himself. This sight created faith in him, and he wished his wife could have the same experience. That night, his wish came true when his wife dreamed of Meher Baba and became eager for his darshan. From then on she often went to Baba’s darshans, and gradually even surpassed her husband in love for Baba.

Niranjan invited Baba to his college to give darshan to the students. This was not in the original scheduled programs, but at the last moment it was hastily arranged. Although Baba had no time according to the schedule, he accepted the invitation and crowded it into his schedule. It proved to be the best function of all. On December 2nd, Baba went to the college at 7:30 P.M. Including the college personnel and students, there were almost three thousand people present. A grand reception was accorded him on his arrival by Niranjan Singh, Professor Jagindar Singh and others. Baba was led to the meeting hall, which was overflowing; hundreds had to stand outside, which created a commotion.

With Baba’s permission, the principal stood up to say a few words. On his rising, a hush came over the audience. Niranjan Singh said:

You know me as the principal. I also teach philosophy. You take me as an expert in the subject. Yet, like you, I too am still a student. Despite all, I know very little about spirituality. When I read Meher Baba’s discourses, which were lent to me by a friend, I began having full faith in him. The more I read the more I was drawn to him, whom I had never seen. When I met him personally and heard some of his explanations, I could not help but feel that I had found a Guru.
But I was in a fix. You know my wife and her dogmatic religious beliefs. It has never been possible for the two of us to live with any differences between us. I told her to see Meher Baba only once. I have met him three times, and she has, after that, seen him six times. Now I ask her to garland Meher Baba in the presence of all.

There was loud cheering in the hall as Mrs. Niranjan Singh garlanded Baba. All were delightfully surprised at this unexpected transformation in her. She would not even look at other religious scriptures. To accept Meher Baba as her Master was extraordinary indeed. Baba is beyond all religions, and Niranjan Singh and his wife acknowledged this. Professor Jagindar Singh and his wife also came close to Baba in their devotion.
[Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher, 11: 4000-1]

Joginder Singh loved Meher Baba as Guru Nanak, saying, "I feel as if I am in the bosom of my mother. I see no difference between Baba and Nanak." He first learned of Baba through Principal Niranjan Singh. After doing postgraduate work in chemistry at Punjab University in Lahore, he worked for Burma Shell Oil Company and later taught at Akal College, Mastana, Allahabad. He then became head of the chemistry department at Mohinder College, Patiala. Upon learning of Joginder's excellent teaching skills and reputation, Professor Niranjan Singh asked him to teach chemistry to the honors students of Khalsa College in Amritsar, which he did in 1930. In 1948, he joined Sikh National College in Kadian. Joginder learned of Meher Baba's visit to Delhi from Niranjan, and so attended the, Darshan at Camp College, Delhi, on December 2, 1952. Baba called Joginder along with his wife, daughter, and two sons to Meherabad on November 13, 1958. Joginder later reported, "Early in the morning, I met my Beloved and kissed Him. I kissed His lotus feet, hands and lips."

It was in a dream that Daulat Singh first beheld Beloved Meher Baba’s face, aglow with matchless radiance and an inviting smile. But he neither knew Baba’s name nor His whereabouts. “Is He the Awakener of this age? Is He Nanak come again?” he thought of
the face he had seen. Ever since this significant dream his eyes always longed to see the face of that Enlightened One, in flesh and blood. This was what he genuinely wished but hardly dared hope for. This vision seemed very significant to him (it was a sign from the sphere of ever shining light, he knew) but not knowing what to do about it he became very restless. In those days he was living in Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. He was practicing there as a doctor and was well placed in life.

In the early 1940s one of Baba’s devotees visited Kashmir to spread His name and message. He carried pictures of Meher Baba with him. Once he displayed a few of these in one of the small shops on the main road in Srinagar. By a stroke of luck, Daulat Singh happened to pass by and at once recognized the face as that of the One he had seen in his dream and for whom he was desperately searching and pining. He embraced that devotee with great fervor as tears of joy trickled down his cheeks. That day he first heard the Holy Name of this Age — Meher Baba. A wonderful lover had thus been drawn to the wonderful Beloved, in a wondrous way.
[Bal Natu, Glimpses of the God-Man, Meher Baba, vol. 2, pp. 117-18]

Daulat Singh, an Amazing Example of Discipleship during the New Life, May 1950

In 1949, Baba had sent Dr. Daulat Singh home to Bangalore from Belgaum with certain instructions. Accordingly, he was to live only on food obtained by begging for a fixed period. Daulat Singh was from a very respectable family, and his relatives were disgusted with the idea of someone like himself, an educated doctor, begging. Society ridiculed him and looked with disapproval at his peculiar behavior. But Daulat Singh was uniquely obedient, the type of man who would give up his life to keep his word. Finally, circumstances being so intolerable, he left his home in Bangalore to wander and beg for his sustenance in various places.

Unknowingly, the beggar at last reached
the doorsteps of the Only Real Giver

He had no idea that Baba was in Satara, but one day he happened to end up wandering there — begging right near Baba’s bungalow. Eruch was keeping watch outside. Suddenly, Baba asked him to find out who was sitting on the culvert. As Eruch neared the beggar, he could not believe his eyes. Daulat Singh was equally astonished to see Eruch. “Is Baba here? Can I come to Baba’s door to beg?” he pleaded.

Eruch went to inform Baba. Calling Daulat Singh, Baba heard his woeful story and gave him some food. Afterward, Baba praised his courage: “I am extremely pleased with your obedience. You are truly leading the New Life, and are an example to others. Although away from me, you are close to me. I am very pleased with you. I promise one day I will visit your house.”

Now that the New Life had developed into three plans, Baba freed Daulat Singh from begging for his food, and included him in Plan One-B to live and work independently as a physician. Soon after, with tears in his eyes, Daulat Singh left for home. He was an amazing example of living the New Life apart from Baba.

But in this man’s begging sack was carried a treasure,
which would one day transform his beggarly existence
into the true essence of life — life eternal.
Daulat Singh held fast to Baba’s feet until the last.

[LM 10: 3614]

The Saint Kirpal Singh Meets Meher Baba

A well-known spiritual leader who contacted Meher Baba was the Sikh saint Kirpal Singh.

It was in Delhi at this time [1952] that the Sikh saint Kirpal Singh, age fifty-nine, met Baba for the first time. Harjiwan Lal knew him and had scheduled one of the darshan functions at the saint’s place, where a large number of people assembled on the afternoon of Sunday, November 30th. But when informed, Baba objected that perhaps people would be confused, thinking they were coming for Kirpal Singh’s and not for his darshan.

Kishan Singh and Dr. Deshmukh were then appointed to inform the saint that Baba preferred giving darshan that evening in a more central location on Minto Road, and that the saint with his followers was invited to come there. Kirpal Singh came, and in the absence of a chair, Baba bade him sit on a suitcase on which Baba had spread a carpet. Baba remarked to him, “You have come; you are so humble. You have won and I have lost.” Baba embraced him lovingly as he left the place, and while Baba was getting into his car, Kirpal Singh once again asked Kishan Singh to request Baba to visit his ashram. Baba agreed, saying he would meet the saint and only his family members for fifteen minutes, and fixed the date and time for it.

A group of women who had gone for Baba’s darshan on Minto Road offered their residence at Rajinder Nagar in New Delhi for one of Baba’s programs, agreeing to make all the arrangements. Baba went there on the morning of December 3rd, but shortly before his arrival it was learned that the women were disciples of Kirpal Singh who were holding regular meetings at their house, and that the saint had also been invited by them. To ensure that Kirpal Singh was accorded an equal position with Baba, they had placed two chairs side by side on the dais in the tent, one for Baba and the other for the saint. Kishan Singh and Prakashwati prevailed upon them to remove the second chair, but the women objected. Harjiwan Lal approached the saint directly, who agreed at once and on entering the pandal had the chair placed at a lower level. Baba arrived immediately afterwards. Darshan was given and Baba spelled on the alphabet board, “The worst scoundrel is better than a hypocritical saint.”
[LM 11:4002]

Meher Baba Discusses Spiritual Experiences with Sant Kirpal Singh

The spiritual leader of the Sikhs, Kirpal Singh, met Meher Baba in Delhi in November 1952. On occasion, Baba would remark that Kirpal Singh was a saint and very dear to him. Of all the saints and yogis in India, Baba would say that there were seven who were very dear to him and he always mentioned Kirpal Singh’s name as one of them. (Kammu Baba and Gadge Maharaj were two of the other saints, but Baba did not name the other four.)

Burjor Gai of Delhi was sent a copy of God Speaks to give to the saint, and at this meeting Kirpal Singh expressed his desire to have Baba’s darshan again, since he would be going to Poona which was not far from Satara. Baba gave his permission.

Soon after, Kirpal Singh arrived in Kalyan. On May 14th, Eruch was sent to fix the time for his meeting with Baba.

On Friday, May 18th, Kirpal Singh came to Satara with two of his male followers and one woman and met with Meher Baba in the Judge’s bungalow at about 9:30 A.M. Baba was standing on the veranda and lovingly embraced the saint. Catching hold of his hand, he took him to his room, signaling the others to wait outside, except for Eruch who was interpreting Baba’s gestures. Baba sat on his usual seat and beckoned Kirpal Singh to be seated. With folded hands, Kirpal Singh said, “I am so very happy and fortunate to see you.”

Baba replied, “I am the Lord of the Universe; I am in everyone and am everything. I know everything and yet, simultaneously, I know nothing. . . .”

“That is the mark of real greatness,” Kirpal Singh interrupted.

“It is all of you who are great; I am but a slave of my lovers. I feel truly happy when I get opportunities to wash their feet. My delight is to embrace them. I am the Ocean of Love.”

Baba stood up and patted Kirpal Singh, who also rose immediately. Baba asked him to sit down, but he remained standing reverently until Baba was himself seated and resumed the conversation. “I am very pleased with the work you are doing,” Baba began stating. “It is I who, through you and others, do my own work.”

Kirpal Singh said, “How can people be expected to take interest in spirituality unless they have had some experience? Some miracle should be performed!”

In an emphatic tone, Baba replied, “Although it is good to have inner experiences, it is very dangerous to attach importance to them. If the aspirants are not pre-warned, then even petty experiences prove treacherous and hinder steady progress.”

A day before, Baba had stated, “He who knows everything, displaces nothing. To each one, I appear to be what he thinks I am.” Baba instructed Rano Gayley to write this line out in large print, and the message was hung near Baba’s chair. Baba pointed to it and explained to Kirpal Singh the true significance of the spiritual path.

Baba then cited two examples among his own followers who had had experiences. He told Kirpal Singh, “They now have their own followers and groups, and are initiating newcomers. Although they still love me, they have their own independent way of life.”

Baba emphasized, “Such irresponsible practices based on petty experiences are harmful both to the initiator and the initiated.”

Kirpal Singh interposed, “But if the experiences are utilized for the progress of the aspirants?”

“What I am pointing out is not meant for you, but I do want you to realize how petty experiences can trap aspirants and lead them astray.”

Baba signaled for a copy of Sobs & Throbs, Ramjoo Abdulla’s book, describing the Prem Ashram boys’ experiences. The moment Baba stood up, Kirpal Singh also rose and stood near Baba. Baba embraced him once again and asked him to sit down. He remained standing, however, as a mark of respect. Baba opened the book and showed Kirpal Singh the photographs of the boys who had had inner experiences.

Kirpal Singh innocently remarked, “At that tender age, it is not difficult for boys to have such experiences.”

Baba expressed surprise, “Tender age?” Smiling he said, “Age, whether tender or ripe, has nothing to do with experience gathered by the Self, which knows no limitations of age.”

Baba then drew Kirpal Singh toward him and, taking his hand, led him to Kaikobad’s room, telling him, “You are now going to hear something from an old man about inner experiences.” Baba sat on Kaikobad’s bed and asked Kirpal Singh to sit nearby.

“Kaikobad,” Baba explained to Kirpal Singh, “is my old lover and has had many inner experiences. Sometimes he tells me about them, but I do not understand. Perhaps you will understand what Kaikobad has to say.”

Baba permitted Kaikobad to relate all that he had experienced, requesting Kirpal Singh to hear him patiently, since he would speak in an odd mixture of Hindi and Gujarati languages, because Kaikobad did not know Hindi properly.

Leaving Kaikobad and Kirpal Singh alone, Baba left the room and joined the three devotees who had accompanied Kirpal Singh to have Baba’s darshan. . . . Meanwhile, Kaikobad narrated his experiences to Kirpal Singh, who commented, “Such experiences could only be had with Baba’s blessing! I have had no such experiences!”

After hearing what Kaikobad had to relate, Kirpal Singh joined Baba. He was invited by Baba to sit in a chair but preferred sitting near Baba on the steps. The party had brought a movie camera and desired to have some footage of Baba and Kirpal Singh together, which Baba allowed. Baba then ordered Kirpal Singh’s followers to “hold fast to the daaman of Kirpal Singh and follow his instructions with love and devotion.”

 [LM 14: 4924, 4926-27]

Kishan Singh, a government official from Rawalpindi, first heard of Meher Baba in 1933 and finally met him in 1945 in Hyderabad. He described his first impression of Baba thus:

“It is still beyond my power to explain or write what I saw in Meher Baba when he appeared on that porch to be seen. Suffice it to say that I simply felt stunned at the very first glance. The lustre on Baba's face at once attracted my mind to surrender to him wholeheartedly, regardless of his spiritual attainment — whether he was or was not the Avatar or a Sadguru, or even an ordinary saint or not a saint at all! Baba's smiling countenance cemented the tie of the little love that I then had for him in my heart. His brilliant eyes formed the index for what was in store for me in the near future. In fact, I presently felt the dawning of a New Era in my heart.
[LM 8:3022]


FV said...

Kendra I have no words to express my gratitude for this post, for Kirpal Singh was the other important spiritual figure in my life. This interview was truly beautiful both very much their character. Thank you so much for digging this up and posting it! In His Love, Federico

David Raphael Israel said...

Delightful compilation, thanks Kendra.

Some readers might enjoy dipping into the ocean of astonishment known as the Guru Granth Saheb -- the vast book of poetry that serves as the scripture of the Sikhs, which is primarily comprised of Guru Nanak's poems of praise, but also contains poems of Kabir (who was a predecessor to Nanak) as well as poems of some subsequent Sikh Sadgurus. It's an ocean of a book, into which I've occasionally dipped thanks to the meticulous literal translation(s) found online. Here's one such:

Guru Granth Saheb

All quotes of Meher Baba © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust unless otherwise indicated. Writings by Kendra are © Kendra Crossen Burroughs unless otherwise noted.