Saturday, July 27, 2002

"We will all live like brothers, not as a band of thieves"
A.N. Aggarwal

Baba Sawan SinghTHE subject of miracles is very fascinating. People look upon miracles with amazement and generally attach profound divinity and spirituality to them. But there is nothing divine about them. They are the play of mind. Mind, when fully concentrated, achieves wonderful powers. One can heal the sick, cure a terminal disease, give sight to the blind, cause rain, walk on water, or do many other things. One who conquers the mind becomes the master of all the forces of nature.

Miracles are generally associated with saints. In fact, saints never perform them for public exhibition. Sometimes these things happen naturally and at times they show them to their disciples individually in special circumstances. But saints themselves attach no importance to miracles. The late Diwan Daryai Lal Kapur, a retired Sessions Judge of Punjab, has recorded a few miracles in his book Call of the Great Master published by the Radha Soami Satsang, Beas. One of them makes interesting and entertaining reading. It occurred before the partition of the country. It goes like this:


Once the Great Master (Maharaj Baba Sawan Singh) went to Amritsar for satsang. He was at a distance of about two furlongs from the Satsang Ghar when, at a turn in the road, a drunkard fell down in front of the car. Luckily, he had escaped unhurt. The Great Master, with the help of a companion of the drunken man, tried to make him stand on his feet, but he was too drunk to walk steadily. A number of satsangis who had gathered around helped him to get out of the way. When the Great Master left, the drunkard asked who was the Sardar in the car for the Great Master's majestic figure could not but impress this peasant, even though he was not in his full senses. His companion, who was also half tipsy, told him, perhaps just by way of leg-pulling, that the people around said that He was God, who had come to earth to save sinners like him.

"God he seems to be, and I want to go to him to have my sins forgiven," the peasant said, and after a few minutes he, with a half-emptied bottle of liquor in his pocket, reached the Satsang Ghar.

The Great Master was sitting in an easy chair. He noticed this man only when suddenly, with unsteady steps, he tumbled down at the feet of the Great Master, placed his head on his feet and locked the Great Master's legs in his arms.

"You are God. Forgive me my sins," he begged.

"No, I am not God," said the Great Master, trying to release himself from his grip. "I am a sinner like you. Now get up my son."

"I will not rise until you say that you have forgiven me," said the peasant.

The Great Master laughed involuntarily and with the laughter came his forgiveness.

Manohar, the Master's personal attendant, and Jamadar Partap Singh wanted to remove the man by force, but the Great Master stopped them from doing so.

"Well," he said with a smile, "this is a strange way of getting forgiveness by force."

The drunkard began to weep bitterly.

"Say what you like, but I won't leave your feet until you forgive me," he said.

The Great Master laughed heartily and put both his hands on the man's head. "Well, rise up, for you are forgiven, my son," he said.

"All my sins? Am I saved from the hell-fire?" asked the peasant, raising his head.

"Yes, your faith has saved you," replied the Great Master.

In the evening, the peasant was found standing in the queue waiting for the initiation. A few were rejected, but he was among those who were accepted.

"You will have to abstain from alcoholic drinks and animal foods in the future," the Great Master warned him.

"Wine I can never give up. It is simply impossible for me," the man replied.

"Well then, promise me one thing that you would never take it in my presence," said the Great Master.

"How do you earn your livelihood?" the Great Master asked.

"By theft and robbery," was the surprising reply.

"That must be given up. You must choose some other profession," said the Great Master.

"I do not know any other profession," the man told Him.

"But you must start to earn your living in some other way now that you have been initiated," the Great Master insisted.

"I cannot do anything else, and have never done anything else," said the peasant.

"All right. Then promise me one thing more that you will not steal any more than you actually need, and that you will not take anyone else with you when you go out to steal."

"That I promise with all my heart," the man replied. After this, he committed theft only once.

After this initiation, he went to attend the marriage ceremony of a female relative and, while there, he ran short of money. One night he entered the house of a Bania and broke open his strongbox. Just as he had taken hold of a bundle of currency notes, the heavy upper lid of the iron chest fell upon his arms, wounding it grievously and holding it fast as in a trap. All his cunning and cleverness failed to release him. When after a long struggle, he finally gave himself up as lost, the Great Master appeared before him. Helping the robber to free his arms, He said, "Had you not promised me not to steal any more than you needed? Now run away to save your life, and leave everything here." After that the peasant never committed any theft again.

On the very first day of his return to his village, his companions approached him and asked him to join for the usual evening drinking bout. They were determined to celebrate, as they said that he has had the good fortune to meet a saint But with folded hands he humbly begged to be excused. At this, one of his comrades, Balwant Singh, who was second-in-command, took over the command of the group saying that since their regular commander had gone out of his senses, he would act in his place. As a warning, he told the Master's disciple that his arms and legs would be held by two loyal men and he would then be laid flat on the ground with his face upward. Another man would hold his hand over his nose, and the new commander himself would then perform the ceremony of emptying the liquor jug into his mouth.

"Speak, prisoner! What have you got to say in your defence?" thundered his second-in-command.

"I submit," the robber chieftain replied. He had just raised his jug to his lips when he saw the Great Master appear before him.

"Remember your promise, my son!" said the Great Master. "As soon as you break it, I shall take back my pardon also." Gangu, the robber chieftain, stood up, flung the jug and ran out of the room.Soon he returned with a rifle in his hands. "You know what a sharp shooter I am," he told his former cronies. "You also know how ruthlessly I can kill my own men for disobedience. Now remain seated as you are, and listen to me most attentively." The silence of the grave fell instantly over the group in the room. Then the robber chieftain spoke. "Now listen, my brothers!" he said. "I have come in touch with a Satguru. I have promised him never to touch wine again, or to commit any crime. Here are the keys to my treasure-chest. Take these keys and divide the money in the chest equally among you. With this sum, each of you can start any business of your choice. I have now washed my hands of this entire affair. If any of you wished to speak now, he may do so."

"Sardar! We won't be able to live without you," they all said.

"We will all live like brothers, but no longer as a band of thieves and criminals," he said in a very loving tone. Saying this, he flung the bunch of keys and with folded hands bade them farewell.