Sri Bhatnagar Becomes Mahaprabhuji's Disciple
I travelled widely in Gujarat and gave lectures in many places, including Rajkot and Gondal. In Gondal I stayed with Sri B. L. Sharma, a senior officer of the railway and in his house I held several satsangs to which many other railway employees came. One of these was Sri S. P. Bhatnagar, the personnel manager, who considered himself agnostic.
After one satsang, he asserted, "I believe such gatherings to be misleading and a waste of time. These gullible listeners are given all sorts of unrealiztic promises of happiness when in reality life is hard and cruel and everyone is on their own!"
I was unable to accept his remark in silence.
"You've never met a mahatma and only because of this you speak in that way. If you'd ever met a realized Master, your eyes would have opened and you would see that I have spoken the pure truth."
"You may be right," Sri Bhatnagar remarked. "Maybe a mahatma is able to help us but until now I've only seen swindlers. I have met many who pass themselves off as wise and holy but not one was able to impart realization and knowledge of God."
On hearing this, I felt that standing before me was someone who was in need of Mahaprabhuji's help.
"Come with me to my Master, Mahaprabhuji. He's an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and when you come to know him, you'll experience that God's power on earth acts in him."
He agreed to come with me and in order to test Mahaprabhuji's abilities, he secretly prepared a list of forty questions on complicated religious and philosophical subjects such as God, karma and reincarnation. These he hid in his purse.
Our journey to Bola Guda took several days. When we reached Shivbagh Ashram, Mahaprabhuji was walking around outside. We greeted him and with a gentle smile Mahaprabhuji turned to my companion.
"Be welcome, Bhatnagar. Now you have finally arrived at the right place, your search is over. You carry with you a list of forty questions. I can answer more if you wish, eighty or a hundred! Knowledge is God's heavenly prasad which I have come to distribute in this world."
Sri Bhatnagar stood there completely perplexed, unable to utter any word in reply, so Mahaprabhuji invited him to freshen up after the long journey.
"Take a rest and later we'll speak with each other."
After taking some fruit and tea, Sri Bhatnagar went to Mahaprabhuji, who invited him to sit down. Sri Bhatnagar was uncertain how Mahaprabhuji had known of his intentions.
While sitting at his feet, Sri Bhatnagar reflected, "Until now my forty questions were never answered to my satisfaction by any scholar, Saint, Master, mahatma or JagatGuru. If Mahaprabhuji should answer my questions in such a way that my mind is liberated from all doubt and finds peace at last, then I will wholly acknowledge him. If not, then I will expose him in public."
Mahaprabhuji addressed Sri Bhatnagar.
"Now tell me, how shall I answer your questions? Outwardly — or inwardly, to your conscience?"
"Answer twenty questions outwardly and twenty inwardly, so that I may have both experiences." Sri Bhatnagar decided.
Mahaprabhuji began to explain the answers to the first twenty questions and in that moment, convinced Sri Bhatnagar of his unique spiritual knowledge. Sri Bhatnagar sat with closed eyes, absorbing every word. After these first twenty questions Mahaprabhuji left his seat to join a discussion with other devotees some distance away.
Sri Bhatnagar remained seated with closed eyes as the wondrous discussion with the Master continued in his mind and in this way he received answers to the other twenty questions. Much, much later he opened his eyes and realized that Mahaprabhuji was no longer with him but was speaking to others some metres away. Astonished, he reflected upon this miracle. In this hour Sri Bhatnagar became a believer in God, convinced of Mahaprabhuji's divinity.
He rose and walked to Mahaprabhuji, then prostrated himself.
"Merciful Master, you have opened my eyes and removed the veils of ignorance. Today for the first time I have experienced the truth!"
During the night Sri Bhatnagar had another wonderful experience. As soon as he lay down and closed his eyes, a bright, sparkling light appeared which illuminated the whole universe. For over an hour he remained in the delightful state of samadhi, then he opened his eyes and knelt down before Mahaprabhuji and prayed:
"Mahaprabhu Deep, you yourself are the blissful, Divine Light! Please grant me your grace, too. You are indescribable, only a few can understand you. All others, with such deplorable fate, live in blind ignorance in this world. I pray that your Divine radiance shall illuminate my inner and outer Self."
Sri Bhatnagar stayed at the ashram for several days. When finally the time came for him to return, he asked Mahaprabhuji if he could do anything for him.
"The whole universe is my Atma and I am the Atma of the universe," Mahaprabhuji answered. "Live your life in such a way as to bring benefit to the whole world. If you serve humans and all living beings, then you are serving me. My Atma is also your Atma. However, if you want to give me something, promise me to lead your life according to the Truth."
I accompanied Sri Bhatnagar to the railway station at Somesar. It was a difficult farewell for him.
"Now the obligations of my work separate me from my Gurudeva," he said sadly.
"Mahaprabhuji is Omniscient and Omnipotent," I assured him. "Wherever and whenever you think of him, he will appear before you."
Soon after that, Sri Bhatnagar moved to Baroda and he called me there to assist in the printing of a collection of Mahaprabhuji's bhajans under the title of Sri Deep Puri Anubhava Prakasha. I was to take 1000 copies with me and deliver them as a gift to Mahaprabhuji.
Mahaprabhuji returned to Sri Deva Dungary Sannyas Ashram and Sri Bhatnagar together with his family visited for ten days. During this time he requested Mahaprabhuji to reveal the secrets of Creation. Thereupon Gurudeva drew him a kind of diagram to use as illustration in explanation of the whole phenomenon of the Cosmos, its origin, existence and eventual dissolution into God. Sri Bhatnagar often recalled this experience and with much gratitude.
He lived a righteous life with his family. He raised his ten children with love and respect for Mahaprabhuji and all were truly devoted to him and lifelong preserved his teachings in their hearts.
After his retirement, Sri Bhatnagar moved to Bombay and when it came time to bid farewell to this world, he left his body in the way of a yogi, with the name of Mahaprabhuji on his lips.
Next Chapter: Mahaprabhuji's Grace
Previous Chapter: My Second Journey to Gujarat
Overview: My life with Sri Mahaprabhuji