Thakur Bhur Singh and Gumanaram
In the village of Maharamji ka Guda lived a man of unusual powers named Gumanaram, who was known throughout the land for his ability to materialise objects. He could materialise whatever he desired from far distances and this ability had brought him some prominence. Often, though, he would simply force someone by means of threat or blackmail to provide whatever he demanded. He was very proud of his extraordinary talent and was utterly convinced of his own importance. His pride, haughtiness and arrogance grew day by day.
Once a great tantric baba came to see Gumanaram. This baba was also well known and had mighty powers of his own. Soon they both quarrelled about who was the greater and the altercation grew more and more passionate. Suddenly Gumanaram transfixed the baba to his seat with a magic formula and the baba grew alarmed when he realized that he could not get up. He tried and tried, but in vain. Finally he had to concede defeat and acknowledge Gumanaram's superiority. Disdainfully, Gumanaram released his opponent and the baba fled as fast as he could.
Gumanaram delighted in such encounters and he particularly enjoyed humiliating yogis and sadhus. As his reputation grew, people feared him more and more and he began to believe that he was invincible.
The Ruler of Maharamji ka Guda was Thakur Bhur Singhji, a close companion of Gumanaram. They spent much time together feasting, eating meat and consuming wine and opium.
However, one day the thakur met Mahaprabhuji and decided at once to change his way of life. When he begged Mahaprabhuji for mantra diksha, Mahaprabhuji promised it to him only on the condition that he completely give up hunting, eating meat, drinking alcohol and taking drugs. Thakur Bhur Singhji promised.
Returning home that day full of enthusiasm, he told his friend Gumanaram about his meeting with Mahaprabhuji.
"I have met one who is truly highly developed and in him I glimpsed Divine power and a radiance emanating from absolute purity. When I saw him my eyes were dazzled by his brilliance and time appeared to stand still. I suddenly realized how much more there is to life than I had thought and how much time I've wasted in senseless activities. Without delay I begged him to accept me as his disciple and bestow on me a mantra."
Gumanaram was shocked.
"Sir! After all, you are an educated and rational man! How could you fall for something like that? Undoubtedly this supposed Saint has hypnotised you and now you are enslaved to him! I don't believe in holy men. Besides, I surpass them all in the powers they claim to possess. I can give you whatever you want just by waving my hand. What Guru can do that?"
Thakur Bhur Singh could only suggest that Gumanaram go and convince himself what this Guru was like.
"Let us depart at once and I'll test this Saint with my powers and see what he can do," the proud magician replied.
They set off at sunset for Mahaprabhuji's ashram at Bola Guda, some twelve kilometres away. It was the time of monsoon and at the village of Kharda they had to cross a rain-swollen river. The banks were very muddy and Gumanaram slipped and injured his right leg.
"Blast this holy man of yours!" he shouted, enraged. "Why in the world am I going to such trouble for him? You'd think he was going to show me heaven and hell the way I'm killing myself to get to him!"
Eight kilometres away at the ashram, Mahaprabhuji was conducting satsang around ten o'clock in the evening when he interrupted it and told some disciples to prepare a certain tincture of herbal medicine.
"One of my disciples who still wallows in ignorance, is coming tonight to see me. During a fall he has hurt his leg and without quick treatment this leg will give him problems for the rest of his life."
The disciples thought all this to be very strange but they followed Mahaprabhuji's instructions and prepared the tincture.
In due time the two men arrived at the ashram, Gumanaram looking a little the worse for wear but still maintaining his belligerent attitude. Standing aside, he watched as Sri Bhur Singhji bowed to Mahaprabhuji. Mahaprabhuji welcomed them both and turned to Gumanaram.
"Greetings, my son. Heaven and hell you wanted to see? This will come later, but for now you ought to take this tincture and rub it into your right leg and rest for a while."
"Sir, you are mistaken. I am not injured," Gumanaram replied.
Gurudeva only smiled at him.
"Dear one, this is the kingdom of truth and you will find it difficult to lie here. You fell down the river bank at Kharda and spoke these words to your friend."
Mahaprabhuji repeated word for word what Gumanaram had said there, then continued.
"Now don't lose any time in taking this medicine if you don't want to have real troubles with your leg."
Mahaprabhuji quoting his own words had the effect like a splash of icy cold water on Gumanaram.
"How can he possibly know this?" he thought. "Bhur Singh could not have told him because we've been together the whole time. It must be a trick, but I can't see how he pulled it off."
While rubbing his leg with the herbal tincture, Gumanaram reflected on this question but could find no answer. Tired from all the excitement and long journey, he lay down and soon fell asleep and began to dream.
Gumanaram was in hell, surrounded by devils, demons, snakes and other frightening beings. He felt unspeakable agony, terror and darkness. He saw the suffering that he had caused others and what painful karma he had created for himself. Gumanaram was caught by bitter repentance.
At two o'clock in the morning he awoke from the dream and saw Gurudeva still sitting with his disciples having satsang. With a groan he lay back and dreamed again.
This time he was in heavenly paradise. In ecstasy he heard the devas and gandharvas singing and he saw the Divine Play. Amidst the eternal bliss of the liberated ones, his inner Self was filled with light, love, harmony, truth and peace. He realized that if he followed Gurudeva his future path would be like this.
At five o'clock in the morning he again opened his eyes. Mahaprabhuji and his disciples were still sitting together in satsang, filled with the joy of a night spent in spiritual unity.
Gumanaram rose and stepped forward before Mahaprabhuji. His leg was completely healed and one might think that he had seen enough marvels to change him, but his ego was not yet convinced. He began to direct all his magic energy towards Mahaprabhuji. He used all his strength but nothing happened. Ultimately he gave up and wordlessly sat down.
Mahaprabhuji, who had apparently ignored him, knew exactly what he was up to and smiled.
"Are you all finished now? Your magic may indeed be effective elsewhere, but how can darkness defeat the sun?"
Gumanaram looked into Mahaprabhuji's kind eyes and recognised in him his Master.
"I've been searching for him all my life without really knowing it," he said to himself. "He is my saviour and it's about time that I surrendered to him."
With folded hands he implored Mahaprabhuji, "Lord, grant your blessing on this poor sinner. Accept me as your child and show me the right way. I know in my heart that you have come into the world to bring light. Please illuminate my darkness."
Sri Mahaprabhuji, the saviour of all living beings, whose mercy and love are infinite, forgave everything. Anger, dislike and feelings of revenge had no place in his Divine heart.
"I will accept you," he told the magician, "but I am placing conditions. Leave behind all your unholy practices, all your magic formulas and tricks with which you used to frighten, cheat and humiliate people. You must cease killing and devouring animals for your own pleasure and you must give up alcohol and drugs. Discard your bad habits and free yourself from negativity!"
Gumanaram humbly bowed.
"Gurudeva, I vow to follow you forever and with your help I will become a new man."
"I will help you find a way to earn an honest living," Mahaprabhuji said. "But you must stick to it and not revert to your old practices. Otherwise, I warn you, the consequences will be dreadful. I think you know what I mean."
He was referring of course to Gumanaram's dream of hell and Gumanaram understood very well.
"Now go and begin your life anew," said Mahaprabhuji.
With a feeling of immeasurable gratitude, Gumanaram left the presence of Gurudeva.
The Merciful God of Khatu
Some time later, Thakur Bhur Singh decided to invite Mahaprabhuji to spend the months of the monsoon in his residence. The invitation was accepted and Mahaprabhuji was received there in splendid festivity. The whole village participated in the celebration and satsangs. All were happy for the opportunity to serve Gurudeva, especially Gumanaram, who had become a farmer and had learned to live with love and respect for his fellow beings.
That year his field was well cultivated and promised a good crop, but suddenly the rains stopped. Alarmed at this, Gumanaram appealed desperately to Mahaprabhuji for help.
"Lord, it has not rained for many weeks, what are we to do? My field is withering and I'm afraid that this year I'll be unable to feed my family. In your vast mercy I beg you to make it rain or else allow me to once again make use of my powers."
Mahaprabhuji smiled kindly.
"Under no circumstances should we let you slide back into your old ways, Gumanaran. God is gracious! Go immediately to your field and call out three times, 'O Lord of Khatu, please send rain'! If you call like this precisely three times, you will receive as much rain as you need."
Without a second's delay, Gumanaram ran to his field.
"God of Khatu, please send rain!" he shouted three times.
In his enthusiasm, he shouted it two more times and looked up into the sky full of hope. He thought that he could see some small clouds to the north and so, just to be sure, he once more invoked the God of Khatu. Immediately a torrential downfall began. Water fell from the sky in such a mass that Gumanaram's field was flooded and it looked as though his crop would be washed away.
Poor greedy Gumanaram! In panic he dashed back to Mahaprabhuji crying for help.
Mahaprabhuji looked at him sternly.
"I gave you exact instructions to call three times, did I not? Why didn't you obey?"
Gumanaram could find no answer and bent his head in shame.
"It was me that you were invoking and I heard," Mahaprabhuji continued. "But don't worry, you have learnt your lesson and you won't lose your corn. On the contrary, I promise you a very good harvest. However, so that this will remain for you an unforgettable lesson, I shall demand a penalty. One quarter of your crop you must donate to your small brothers, the birds. This you must promise me."
Gumanaram nodded thankfully and promised.
This story can raise all sorts of questions. Many of you may think, "What a truly curious story, just like an old fairy tale," and yet I can only assure you with all the sincerity at my disposal that it happened! Even those who were witness to such miracles had difficulty in comprehending what they had just been privy to. It's simply not within our common definition of the possible that a man may simply say, "Let there be rain," and it shall rain, or that he can know what is happening at far-off distances as if he himself were present.
But it was said right at the beginning that the Divine Soul, the perfect incarnation, has control over the elements and laws of the universe. Mahaprabhuji had command over the water element and could therefore call for rain.
Thakur Bhur Singh Leaves this World
The next events took place many years later but because they concern the Ruler Thakur Bhur Singh, I will include them here.
Seriously ill, the thakur lay in the hospital at Udaipur and from there wrote to Mahaprabhuji at Khatu.
"Lord, I greatly desire to see you but unfortunately I have been confined to bed for quite some time. As soon as I recover I would like to visit you in Khatu."
In answer, he received a letter from Mahaprabhuji which ended like this: "Twelve days after you receive this letter I shall be with you."
Bhur Singhji was delighted at these kind words from his Master and wondered what occasion would bring Mahaprabhuji to Udaipur. What Bhur Singhji did not know was that ten days after he had received this note, Mahaprabhuji's great soul had left the earth.
On the twelfth day Bhur Singhji was talking with some visitors in his hospital room. It was already quite late in the evening when he looked out of the window and was startled to see a horse carriage driving up with Mahaprabhuji inside. Bhur Singhji rose from his bed in excitement.
"Highly praised be Gurudeva! The almighty Master has come, just as he said he would!"
All the guests stood and greeted him respectfully as Mahaprabhuji entered the room. Mahaprabhuji inquired about the thakur's health and wished him a speedy recovery.
Bhur Singh replied with a verse from The Ramayana: "O Lord, nowhere in the entire universe can any harm come to those who are protected by your mercy."
Then he asked, "How is that you have come here alone tonight? Until now I have always seen you travel in the company of a number of devotees."
With his familiar warm smile, he gave a reply that Thakur Bhur Singh was only to understand later.
"I am never alone, for I am One with all and all are One with me."
Mahaprabhuji then said, "Now I must leave. You have my blessing."
Bhur Singh was truly sorry that he could not stay longer and regretfully accompanied Mahaprabhuji to the horse carriage and helped him inside. Strangely enough, the coach had no driver, but the horse moved into a trot as if guided by an invisible hand. Watching it depart, Bhur Singhji saw it simply disappear after some metres, as though it just dissolved into the air.
Confused and bewildered, he looked to his friends, who had been watching the scene from the window of his room. Just as astonished as he, they answered his silent question.
"Yes, we saw it too. Do you understand . . .?"
The rest of the night Bhur Singh spent in deep reflection, pondering the meaning of Mahaprabhuji's miraculous appearance and disappearance. Early the next day a letter was handed to the thakur which reported that two days earlier Mahaprabhuji had left this world to unite once again with the Cosmic Light.
The soul of the great and humble Thakur Bhur Singhji was unable to withstand the news.
Feeling as if a heavy weight lay upon his chest, he leaned back into the pillows and prayed, "Mahaprabhuji, I want to be with you forever! God, I beg you, please receive my soul!" and with this he chanted OM and his soul left the body.
Vijaya Singh, the thakur's son, was at his father's side in this last hour and he told me this story.
Shaken by the unforeseen death of his father, the young man had no idea how he should transport the deceased from Udaipur back to his home village. To regain his composure he decided to take a walk through the beautiful town with its hills and lakes. As he aimlessly wandered about he chanced to meet two Americans who kindly asked him why he looked so troubled. He told them the whole story, concluding with the fact that he was all alone in Udaipur and had no money to transport his father's body. Without hesitation these good-hearted tourists offered him their help, made their car available to him and supported him in every possible way.
So, dear readers, this is how God takes it upon Himself to care for his beloved children.
Next Chapter: Karma Yogi, Sri Mangilalji Maheshwari
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Overview: Disciples of Sri Mahaprabhuji