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A Close Encounter With A Baba- Humour

A Close Encounter With A Baba

Normally I keep them all at an arm’s length, but that proverb seems very inappropriate because I wouldn’t like to visit even the “Pandal” where any such person may have plans of giving his version of “Gyan.” It is not that I am averse to getting “Gyan” but I won’t like to have it from self-styled Babas because I think if I try, I can do better than any of them. There are thousands of people who think like me, but in this overcrowded market of Babas it is not easy to establish yourself. It is a cut-throat business, literally!! and unless you have no qualms about cutting throats if necessary, you can’t run the race. The disturbing thought of ‘The purpose of one’s life’ does visit everyone from time to time, more frequently after marriage :). Some thirty years ago, it used to disturb me regularly and I wanted to learn meditation to get on top. Whatever you think I mean to say is OK, but after having wasted my time and money on self-help books and failing to concentrate, I decided to seek help.

People told me that one could learn to control the mind and experience the ecstasy on finding raging flow of thoughts like a river in spate, calming down to the tranquility of a pond, but it has to be learnt from a teacher and it comes with regular practice. On many occasions I had desperately tried to stop my mind from turning about in circles like a Radar scanner, while sitting in lotus position for hours and my wife constantly nagging me for wasting my time on useless pursuits. It had gone on like this for months. I was in no mood to pay to learn to meditate.

I picked up a newspaper and searched the classified section for the institutions where such an art could be learnt as a course or through a discourse, free of cost of course, but always a perverse thought would set with ‘course’ part of the words lingering on. I was worried that I may not land up at an institution for the mentally sick. It had to be a place close to my house as my desire wasn’t that strong after all and I worried that it may not evaporate when I expose my body to some hot sun, while riding a scooter, the I only idle mode of transport lying at home I could afford to use for as useless a cause.

I wanted to go on my mission rather clandestinely because I was sure that if I declared my intent, my wife would stop me in my tracks and give me a long lecture first and hand me down a long list of jobs to do. I zeroed in on Brahm-Kumari Ashram. It wasn’t as much for the prospect of having some Brahm gyan from a Kumari as it was for the convenience of it being delivered almost at my doorsteps that lured me to visit their Ashram. Having any thought of fulfillment of carnal desire from the women pledged to celibacy is sinful, much so for a much married man and a father of two kids and a husband of a beautiful wife and is definitely dangerous when her temper is known to touch legendary heights even when she is sober, so I confess that my “this” desire had nothing to do with my “that” desire.

Another thing that appealed to me was that I could go at a leisurely hour of around 10 A.M. for giving it a try. I parked my scooter under a shade of tree on a sprawling patch of land across the road opposite their Rajyog Bhawan. There were only a few vehicles parked there and all, as far as I remember were two wheelers of various description, because in those days not many people owned cars and thus there was no problem of finding a parking place either.

I walked in gingerly, and looked out for guidance ‘without’. Since I was a seeker, I not only was bereft of any command coming from within, there was none without even to tell me where to go to, so I just went inside the central hall and seated myself on Durrie spread over the floor. There were no Murtees (statues) of any Godheads. There was a picture of the cult-head which now after making some search on the internet I know was that of “Dada Lekhraj Kriplani”, the person who started the mission way back in 1935. He was referred to as Baba and was thought to be an incarnation of lord Shiva. There have been many before him and after him too who have had the same illusion, the latest one being Swami Nityananda who narrowly escaped arrest as he flew out of India after the police registered a case of kidnapping against him. He is said to have ‘hold your breath’, bought an island off Trinidad and Tobago after fleeing India and named it, what else? Kailaasaa which is the name of the mythical abode of Lord Siva.

The moment I learnt this, I lost all interest in my pursuit because I hate to see some incarnate being posing as an agent or representative of God. There are a great many learned preachers who interpret and teach the scriptures to the congregants but they don’t declare themselves as incarnations of God. I didn’t want to bow to a Baba, but here I found one peering at me through his framed picture in Kurta-Pajama, sitting in lotus position alright with a symbolic glow of light knowledge of emanating from his chest.

Brahm Kumaris see the God as an eternal light. I was supposed to recite “Om Shanti” as far as I remember and see the shaft of light emanating from the framed picture and implant it deep in my heart. I tried hard but failed to see any light and I was constantly getting aware of my absence being noticed by my wife at a time of the day when my services could be expressly commanded by her and finding me absent could lead to snuffing the daylight out of me. I had mumbled that I was going out for a work and sped away hurriedly and I was some what certain that I hadn’t used the word ‘mission’ instead, but the doubt was beginning to creep in. I got up and came out side, disillusioned, and I sat down where the benches lay for sitting convenience while wearing the shoes, which as per the custom in all Hindu places of worship have to be removed before entering the hall for worship.

As I sat there, tying the laces, an old Sardarji came and sat next to me and asked “Murali aa gayi hai?” in Punjabi (Has murali come?). Murali although has a feminine gender in Hindi, the females are never named as Murali, I don’t know why, but men have the names in which the first part is Murali, as Muralidhar and Murali Manohar (both are one of the many names given to Lord Krishna) but these men are generally called by the first part of their names only, so there was no chance of being confused that he could be asking about the arrival of some female. If he had used the word “bansuri” instead which is a synonym of Murali, I would have surely been confused because bansuri, though rare but certainly can be a given name to a woman.  I didn’t know what he meant and wasn’t aware if every day any flute from Mount Abu (the main centre of the organization) was received, but I understood that a new sermon for everyday was received from Mount Abu and read at every centre and it was perhaps called “Murali”.

In those days the computers hadn’t become as common as they now are and internet was decades away. A thought swept my mind that I didn’t belong to this environment as I saw a familiar face peering at me as if trying to recognize where had we met before. With the neck turned back as far back as it could reach, he was in a danger of spraining it. I took time to recognize him and acknowledged his uncertain bow, to save him from an injury. He was the cashier at the SBI bank branch where I had an account. I sat there a while longer, contemplating on the futility of my adventure, came out and crossed the road to where my scooter was parked. I tried to start it but on pressing the button ( It was a Kinetic Honda, the only scooter that came with an electric start in those days). nothing happened. I didn’t hear the familiar purr. I tried it again and again but it was as dead as a log. Life seemed to have left it.

I got down and tried to kick start it, but it refused to come to life. I was surprised because being an Engineer, I kept it in a good shape. I couldn’t think of a reason of this sudden failure of ignition, but still I worked on the crank, mechanically. As I removed the side cover to check what could be wrong. I saw a Sardar who looked like a rundown mechanic, getting down from the bicycle he was riding. He came near me and asked if he could help. He told me that he was a scooter mechanic and he could know about the problem of a scooter by merely touching it. I wondered why an ace Scooter mechanic was riding a bicycle. Though there are no rules to it, but I thought, he could at least afford to by a run-down one and keep it ship-shape by simply patting it with his magical hand everyday.

I let him see what had gone wrong with it when I had gone in to explore if I could set my inner turmoil right. After making or posing to make some checks, he told me that the ignition coil of my scooter had gone dead and I was lucky that he had one in his tattered bag. He fished out a spare part which was old and worn out and seemed to have been removed from some scooter. He fixed that on my scooter and it started smartly as it used to. I was too dulled and disillusioned to think that I had been actually fooled by a cheat, maybe because I hadn’t waited to be enlightened by a “Murali” read out to me.

He charged me a hundred rupees for the job. It was a handsome amount in those days. It occurred to me later while I was driving back home that, he had played the time tested trick of the fraudsters while I was inside the Ashram seeking a tryst with Spirituality. I had heard and read that the cheats in other towns disconnected some wires in the circuits of the parked cars when the people went around their business and later came as god sent good smaritans for extending help to the people in distress. I hadn’t heard of such cheats being on the prowl in Chandigarh, but although it is touted as a beautiful city, it still is not Vaikunth and for living in this world full of cheats, I should rather spurn the idea of seeking spirituality by sitting inside the Ashrams, chanting Om Shanti at the feet of Babas, but should rather come out and see them in action all around performing magical tricks by mere sleigh of their hands. The Sardar mechanic in fact was a God sent “Baba” that came riding a bicycle, to enlighten me and lighten my pocket.

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Navneet Bakshi

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Chander Kiran
Chander Kiran
1 year ago

Navneet, it is a well written article…but I think you should have given Murli a try..many persons have gained from it a lot..
You have the knack of making a situation come alive …keep it up

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