Photographer Raghu Rai on the Guru who changed his life

Future Point | 30-Sep-2014

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Holy men, gurus, mystics and saints have been a part of the Indian milieu for time immemorial.

In our series on the India You Didn't Know, renowned photographer Raghu Rai writes about the Guru who transformed his life and the life of many others..

  • Guruji -- as we know him -- was born in his mortal avtar as Nirmal Singhji Maharaj in village Dugri in Sangrur district in Punjab on July 7, 1952.
  • One of the earliest known incidents of Guruji's penchant for the spiritual was spending time at the Dera of Sant Sewa Dasji at Dugri. Santji was a saint of high order who had renounced worldly life and had a large following. Guruji would often go and sit at the Dera much to the dislike of the family who wanted him to spend time studying rather than sit amongst sages.
  • At times he would be locked inside a room, but soon they would find it unlocked and Guruji would be found sitting with the sages at the Dera. The sages would often tell people to leave the young Guruji alone as he was the 'lord of all the three loks' himself and should not be interfered with.
  • Guruji's schoolmates recall his famous feat of filling empty inkpots by just touching them with his finger.
  • Once during an examination a classmate asked Guruji for some ink for his pen and Guruji just touched it with his finger to fill it up!
  • He took great pains to suppress his supernatural powers in front of others and appear normal. But often would leave his teachers perplexed by his sudden disappearance from the classroom seat and be back the next moment! His classmates remember him knowing all the questions of the paper beforehand!
  • Guruji studied on only to fulfill the wishes of his father, who like any normal father wanted his son to get a MA degree. Guruji finally did a double MA. His father recalls that his young son would often help him till the fields and the crop yield would turn out to be many times more than that of others in the area!
  • By this time his parents realised that their son was no ordinary person but God himself. Even His mother started touching his feet and calling him 'Guruji', as he was now called by everyone.
  • After some time he left home to fulfill his spiritual journey in this world. He would often appear in the house of one of his acquaintances -- stay for a few days and then move off -- to where ever he felt and even disappear for days at a stretch.
  • No matter where he stayed people thronged to him for deliverance from disease or any other problem they had. Soon the news of his powers spread all across Punjab and people sought him out no matter where he was.
  • He stayed intermittently at Jallandhar, Chandigarh, Panchkula, Delhi, Mumbai etc finally settling down in a house, now known as his temple in Defence Colony, Jallandhar. He shuttled between Delhi and Jallandhar till 2002 when he finally settled down in the Empire Estate house on MG Road in New Delhi, known as the Chotta Mandir.
  • During the 90s he also made the Shiv Mandir in Bhatti Mines area in Chattarpur, known to his devotees as the Bada Mandir. It now houses his samadhi.
  • He attained mahasamadhi in Delhi on May 31, 2007.
  • Guruji in his short journey on this earth touched the lives of millions of people, also of those who had never even met Him. He would read the persona of a devotee by looking at him and knowing all about his life -- past, present and future. He would then bless the person as he thought fit for them.
  • Guruji cured thousands of all kinds of diseases. He helped people to get out of difficulties, giving peace and happiness to all who came to him. He blessed even those who had never even seen him but their relatives and friends would come to him and beg for his help to overcome their problems.
  • During his Sangat -- as the daily congregations were called -- melodious Gurbaani and Shabad would flow in the hall where the devotees would be sitting on the floor in front of him and meditating. He would bless them, not by touching them, but by altering the path of their lives merely by his spiritual powers! Often he would cure, heal or bestow upon his devotees things they did not even think of asking!
  • There were times when he would ask a devotee to stand-up facing the congregation and relate his divine experience of Guruji's blessing. This was also a way of inculcating faith in the supreme in case any devotee had any 'ifs and buts' in his mind -- as he put it! This was called a satsang.
  • Each sangat would end with a generous helping of langar served to all. Guruji's langar had his divine blessings and there are endless incidents where devotees would get cured just by partaking in it. The same is said about the tea served as prasad during the sangat.
  • Guruji was Lord Shiva incarnate and had revealed himself in the divine form to many of his devotees. Guruji emitted the divine fragrance from his self which was akin to that of heavenly roses. Even today, long after he is no longer there in his physical form, his fragrance is felt as a proof of his presence very much in spirit!
  • Today, long after Guruji's physically gone from their lives, devotees visit the Bada Mandir to receive his countless blessings. He had always said that anyone who entered his temples would be blessed in some measure or the other -- something which continues to happen even today. The air is thick with all the new miracles happening especially to those who have never even seen Guruji. Lucky are those whose lives have actually been touched by him!