As Shri Nathji came close to Hakman’s Hotel, an old admirer of Shri Nathji saluted him along the way. It was Nawab Ghulam Waris. In the years past he used to come to Shri Nathji’s birthday celebrations, riding on his horse, and would sit outside the gate till the time he was called inside by Shri Nathji.
“Aa-haa! Aap!” said Shri Nathji with joy, on seeing the Nawab. Shri Nathji had met him a few days earlier on the Mall Road and had said to him:
“Ye rishtaa daayami hai! Iski naa to iptadaa hai aur naa intahaa hai! This relationship is eternal. It has neither a beginning nor an end!”
Shri Nathji’s love for humanity was so great that he would lose no opportunity of exalting others. He said to the Nawab:
“Now I know what power had brought me out into this cloudy weather. The Himalayas cannot be moved, but they can be shaken by an earthquake. Similarly it was your love that moved me to come out. This meeting was pre-destined!”
The Nawab said: “As I had passed by on the Mall Road I had seen the LIGHT in your house and something told me you were there. I am referring to your Light!”
Shri Nathji called the Nawab to himself and embraced him with love.
Shri Nathji then recited his favourite verse:
“Jazbe bulbul men asar, hoti kafas men aatish
Booye gul phaand kar deevaare gulistaan aaye
The nightingale’s desire turned the cage to fire
And the fragrance of the Rose came,
a-leaping over the walls of the garden”
Shri Nathji added: “I am your servant! Ghulam Rue Zameen!”
The Nawab said: “I am very happy that I have met you today. The vicissitudes of Life are such, who knows whether we shall meet again!”
The Nawab’s words were to prove to be correct. That was the last time he was ever to meet Shri Nathji.
The procession passed Hakmans Hotel. Shri Nathji had often brought Mateshwari and the children to Hakmans for lunch during the early days, where the headwaiter had great respect for Shri Nathji, and who miraculously became elevated to a high post in the city.
There had been a time in the 1930’s when Hakmans Hotel was famous for its ballroom dances. Once, when Shri Nathji was giving a lecture at Rialto Theatre, all the people who used to frequent the dance hall at Hakmans came to Shri Nathji’s lecture instead!
Past Hakmans Hotel there was Jhoola Ghar where Shri Nathji and Mateshwari used to bring the children to play on the swings and the slide. Below, there was Hampton Court School where Shri Nathji and Mateshwari had gone for seven years from 1945 to 1951 when the children were studying there. Shri Nathji could recollect the face of the Reverend Mother St. Clare, who had great respect for him.
And then up the slope to Kulri Bazaar, past the Post Office and Dr. Garg, who had attended to Mateshwari with great diligence during earlier days and who had said: “If Mateshwari had been amongst us we would not have let her go!”
And then there was Chander Book Depot and Cambridge Book Depot, the two bookshops in the city, which had received Shri Nathji’s special attention during the children’s school days. Not only had Shri Nathji purchased School Books from them but also comics and storybooks. The proprietor of Cambridge Book Depot had once said: “Shri Nathji loves me most in Mussoorie!” Indeed this was the experience of all who met Shri Nathji. His love was so great that it made each person think that he loved him most of all.
Travelling down further there was the Rialto Theatre where Shri Nathji had started giving his lectures in the 1930’s and continued to do so right up to the 1960s.
There was Hamer and Co., the one shop in Mussoorie from which Shri Nathji purchased almost everything, from raincoats to gumboots and shaving creams and blades. The proprietor, Shri Hari, had great faith in Shri Nathji and would always request him to grace his shop as well as his home. He would always tell Shri Nathji that Savitri Nivas was gold: “Ye kothi to sonaa hai, sonaa!” referring to the prime location of the property.
Further on, there was G. Das Photo Studio, which had made many memorable photos for Shri Nathji, the most important being the photograph in which Shri Nathji was shown writing with a pen – in which people saw Shri Nathji writing the destiny of the world. And Shri Nathji had said:
“If you don’t like the destiny written for you I shall erase it and write it all over again.”
It was Shri Nathji’s assurance–an assurance never made in religious history before, where fate was said to be inevitable.
Next door was a small music shop, Godins, from where Mateshwari and Shri Nathji had purchased numerous Gramophone records for the children as well as for themselves, many of which were Saigals’s songs and old film songs and bhajans.
Further on, there was the Chic Chocolate shop at Kulri Bazar from which Shri Nathji had purchased J.B. Mangarams’ sweets, chocolates and lollipops for the children. Shri Nathji used to recall how the proprietor always prayed to him for the health of his wife.
Further on, there was Abbul Hasan of New Style Tailors, who came running out of his shop. The wheels of the rickshaw went over his feet. When Shri Nathji was concerned and said: “Chot to naheen lagi? I hope you are not hurt?” He replied: “It makes no difference to me whether the wheels of the rickshaw go over my feet. It was a joy in which I felt no pain!”
There was Pioneer chemist’s shop from where Shri Nathji had purchased many a medicine at all odd hours of the day and night, during the days of Mateshwari’s illness. The shop was still the leading chemist’s shop in Mussoorie.
There was the Bata’s shop from where Shri Nathji had purchased many a glistening shoe as well as Cherry Shoe Polish over the years. Shri Nathji had often walked back and forth in the shop while trying on new shoes. It was a shop especially sanctified by his feet.
Opposite the Bata shop there was the Art Printing Press which had been the first printing press in Mussoorie to print Shri Nathji’s pamphlets and invitation cards and whose proprietor, Shri Sawhney had developed a special devotion for Shri Nathji, saying with emotion: “Ahaa! Aaaj to hamaari dukaan men Bhagwan aa gaye! Aha! God has entered my shop today!” All of Shri Nathji’s pamphlets of the time bore the mark of this printing press since 1932.
Down the slope of the Kulri Bazaar were the local small shopkeepers, the banias and food merchants who all saluted Shri Nathji as he passed by.
There was the Sikh watch-maker who had great faith in Shri Nathji and who would come to Shri Nathji’s house several times and seek his blessings.
There was the Kulri slope downwards towards the Punjab National Bank, and beside it a board pointing to Minerva Hotel where Shri Nathji had stayed from June 1941 to September 1941.
It was from there that Shri Nathji and Mateshwari had shifted to Plevna Cottage near the Mosque, where Priya Nath had been born on the 7th October 1941.
And down the slope there was Inder Restaurant where Shri Nathji, Mateshwari, Pran Nath and Priya Nath had gone years ago to eat their famous gulaab jaamuns and samosaas. The shop had pictures of the Second World War, which Shri Nathji often looked at.
The procession went past a shop, which was no longer there – the shop of Kareem Bax from where Shri Nathji had purchased numerous toys for the children. The owner had gone to Pakistan and had written to his friend, the furniture merchant, Shri Permanand at Jhoola Ghar in Mussoorie to send his salaams to Shri Nathji.
Shri Nathji passed by the Hindi Book Stall owner who had spent his life in the open stall by the side of the road from where Shri Nathji and Mateshwari had frequently purchased Hindi books for the children.
Next, there was the shop, Pooran Chand Sons, whose late proprietor, Shri Pooran Chand, had great faith in Shri Nathji, and who would say to him: “Ham ne aapkaa haath pakar raakhaa hai! We have caught hold of your hand! “
Finally there was Picture Palace Theatre where Shri Nathji had given lectures in the past, in one of which Maharaja Indore had come for His darshan and had said: “Where can one get peace such as this!” It was also a place where Justice M.N. Shukla had first heard Shri Nathji speak along with scores of intellectuals lawyers and judges, all of whom would emerge with the words “Kamaal! Kamaal! Wonderful! Wonderful!” on their lips.
The devotees who walked with Shri Nathji were periodically letting out shrill incantations of:
Bhagwan Bhola Nathji ki Jai
Poojya Mateshwari jee ki Jai
Shaihzaadaa Pran Nathji ki Jai
Shaihzaadaa Priya Nathji ki Jai
And it was thus that Shri Nathji spread his divine radiance everywhere, even as the evening turned to night and the street lights were switched on. Shri Nathji’s spiritual light added a lustre to the street lights that night, even as hundreds of passers-by and shopkeepers stared in bewilderment and awe.