This was the Mall Road on which Shri Nathji’s shoes had echoed many a time since 1929 when he had first come to Mussoorie.
The sight of Shri Nathji walking swiftly and majestically down the Mall Road, stopping along the way for all who met him, embracing people, patting them on their backs, making loud exclamations of:
“Oh-ho! Oh-ho! Aap achhe hain? Main gale lagaaon aapko!”
“Ah-haa! Ah-haa! Are you quite well? Let me embrace you!”
These were words that had become a memory that the people of Mussoorie would never forget.
Shri Nathji would walk with such extraordinary speed that his attendants would find it difficult to keep up with him. Everyone admitted that no one could walk as briskly as Shri Nathji.
Whoever saw him was filled with an indefinable happiness even if he did not know him. Shri Nathji would even stop and talk to the coolies and the sweepers who swept the roads, and would enquire after their families. He would remember if anyone were ill in their families. Tears would come into the eyes of the poor when they saw Shri Nathji stop and talk to them on the Mall. No Raja, Maharaja, Seth or Minister of the government had ever stopped for their sake.
No one seemed to love the poor except Shri Nathji, who was often referred to by his devotees as: “Bandaa gareeb navaaz–the Benefactor of the poor!”
The elegant and charming personality of Shri Nathji wearing a perpetual smile on his lips, his face aglow with an unearthly light, dressed in his black shervaani or achkan, white chooridars, black well-polished shoes, glowing orange silk turban, had become a legend in Mussoorie. In truth no one could fully understand him because he had made himself so easily available.
No one could fathom that God would be walking so freely, so lovingly, and so humbly in their midst. Their concept of God was a distant Almighty God who rarely appeared before man, and if he did so it was only with numerous commandments that instilled awe and fear. Little did they realise that God was Love, even though they could feel that Shri Nathji was the personification of Love in a loveless world.
There was a Muslim shop-keeper who was to say years later: “I knew that people referred to him as God. Although I myself did not understand him in that way, yet whenever I saw him my day passed in great happiness! People would refer to him as the Saint with two children!”
It was on this Mall Road that R.R. Khanna used to pass beneath Savitri Nivas and take off his solar hat and bow low, saying: “Ye to meraa Mandir hai! This is my Temple!”
It was on this same Mall Road that Sir Sultan Ahmed, the member of the Executive Council of the Viceroy, would stop his rickshaw the moment he saw Shri Nathji and salute Shri Nathji –offer his salaams.
Here, on the Mall Road, Justice Abbas Ali Tyyab would walk with Shri Nathji and say: “Jab aap chalte hain to ruhaaniyat sarrkon par barasti hai! When you walk, divine benedictions drop along your path!”
It was also on this Mall that Shri Nathji had accidentally hit Nawab Istafa Khan with his stick while walking with him. When Shri Nathji had expressed concern, Nawab Istafa Khan had said:
“Hazrat, issee intazaar men to saath chaltaa hoon ke kabhi lagaa den!
“I walk by thy side in the hope that one day thou will strike me! It will rid me of all my sins!”
Yes, it was on this Mall Road that the tall, gaunt Chief Engineer, Mahabir Prasad Agarwal would walk with Shri Nathji and recite Shri Nathji’s favourite verse:
“Samundar men katraa fanaa ho gayaa
Fanaa ho ke laa-intahaa ho gayaa
The drop perished in the ocean,
And perishing, became of infinite dimensions”
It was on this Mall Road that Maharaja Sarila would walk alongside Shri Nathji saying:
“Swamiji jab bolte hain to pushp varshaa hoti hai!
“When Swamiji speaks it is as if flowers are raining down!”
And Mahabir Prasad would cut him short by saying:
“Main to naheen kahungaa ke pushp varshaa hoti hai–main to kahoongaa ke Amrit Varshaa hoti hai!
“I would not call it a rain of flowers, I would say it was like nectar raining from above!”
Yes, it was on this Mall Road that Shri Nathji and Mateshwari had often walked together during their early days at Mussoorie causing people to remark: “Wah! Kyaa jori hai! Wonderful! What a couple!”
And there were times when Shri Nathji would walk so briskly that Mahamateshwari would be left far behind! Mahamateshwari would urge Shri Nathji to continue walking with his fast gait to get the exercise he needed.
It was also on this Mall Road that Shri Nathji had frequently walked holding the children by their hands and taking the entire family with himself in a rickshaw.
There was the time the Mall Road had witnessed Shri Nathji’s liveried rickshaw run down the length of it, the khaki uniforms and green belts of the coolies matching the uniforms of the coolies of the Rajas and Maharajas who passed on the Mall in their rickshaws.