And it was thus that Shri Nathji went to Lahore at the end of November 1946 and stayed with Lala Hargopal at 166 Anarkali, Lahore, an address that was to become legend in the history of Shri Nathji.
It was the house to which Shri Nathji had brought his baraat, the bridegroom’s wedding procession, on the 7th of May 1939.
Shri Nathji had come back to a changed Lahore. There was the fire of hatred burning in the hearts of many. The atmosphere was rife with rumours. The partition of the country was in the offing and Lahore was to go to Pakistan.
India was being divided along lines of religion. Many Muslims had opted for a separate nation of their own.
Shri Nathji’s Message of Love – Payaame Muhabbat – which had filled the hearts of Hindus and Muslims with love, was to be the only saving grace. Those whose hearts had been touched visibly or invisibly by Shri Nathji were to remain as the only citadels of love in a land torn by strife. Had it not been for the existence of these few handful of men, perhaps a worse conflagration would have taken place than the one which occurred.
It was in this same city, years ago in the 1930’s, that Shri Nathji’s lecture on Islam had so touched the hearts of his listeners that people had burst into tears, and the principal of the Jamia Islamia College at Lahore had come up to Shri Nathji on the stage and had said : “Oh, what a loveable personality!”
“How can Hindu Muslim unity be forged?” the principal had asked Shri Nathji.
And Shri Nathji had replied: “Unity is already there. It is the very thought of uniting the two that brings about disunity. For truly has it been said:
Bani aadam aazaaye yak deegarand
Ke dar aafreenash za yak jauharand
Man is but a part of man,
For their birth is of one essence”
Goswami Guru Datt, President of the All India Hindu Sanatan Dharam, had asked Shri Nathji at Lahore:
“O Nathji! What strange power do you possess that you can convert people of all faiths to yourself? We try our best with all the debate and intellectualism at our disposal but fail to convert even one man!”
And Shri Nathji had said:
“I do not try to convert them. I reach out to their hearts, not their minds. I have come to give myself to them, not to take away their beliefs. I do not think of anyone as different from myself. I accept their faith as my own. To me all religions are my own. There is no man in the world whose religion I have not accepted or who has not accepted mine. All the religions are like the various rivers running down to the same ocean. I see no contradictions anywhere. I see only a river of unity swaying everywhere.
Jidhar dektaa hoon jahaan dekhtaa hoon
Main teri hee hasti ayaan dekhtaa hoon
No matter where I look, no matter what I see,
I look upon Thee and only Thee
Shri Nathji would also recite the following verse frequently:
Rishtaye ulfat men jab paro saktaa thhaa too unko
Phir pareshaan kyon teri tasbeeh ke daane rahe
When thou couldst have threaded them together with the string of Love,
Why didst the beads of thy rosary remain restless!
If only the Hindus, Muslims and Christians and Sikhs knew that when they counted the beads in their rosaries or maalaas, and recited the name of Ishwar, Allah, God or Wahguru they were all worshipping the same God, all religious differences would cease to exist.
Shri Nathji had written in his pamphlet Shanti Sandesh i.e. Message of Peace:
“All have one Father and all are His children. In this thought alone all conflicts and religious differences can cease to exist!”
In his famous book, Payaame Muhabbat, Shri Nathji had written in Persian:
Bandaye ishq shudi tarke nasab kun Jaami
Ke dareen raah falaan ibne falaan cheese nest
When thou hast become the Slave of Love, give up the boast of birth, O Jaami!
For on this path, so and so, the son of so and so, is without meaning!”
Then again there was Shri Nathji’s verse on the power of Love:
Khaar ke daaman men tujhe gulsitaan aaye nazar
Ye muhabbat ki nigaahon kaa magar aijaaz hai
In the fold of thorns a garden has come to view,
Such is the miracle of the sight of Love!
It was only in the personality of Shri Nathji that everyone saw Unity personified. He was spontaneously and instantly someone who belonged to all. Each found in him his own. People fell in love with him at first sight. It was in Him that all differences ceased to vanish. Whilst intellectuals and politicians could only lecture on unity and peace they could not bring the hearts of people to unite.
Shri Nathji would often say with reference to large conferences and meetings of reformers or religious leaders preaching unity:
“Ye log ek dil ko bhee naheen badal sakte! These persons cannot change a single heart!”
Yet, even with the presence of Shri Nathji upon the earth, the inexorable law of cause and effect was to take its course. The Mahabharata was fought and thousands killed even when Lord Krishna was amongst them.
Shri Nathji knew of the terrible blight that was to hit the land, and he had come to give strength to the hearts of all in the city, and to leave his blessings with the humanity there so that they would be able to bear the suffering that was to come.
His work was continuing in an invisible form and his presence in the city of Lahore at that time was only symbolic. The vast majority of the people there did not even know that he was there. This was Shri Nathji’s method of carrying on with his work silently in the hearts of men.
And yet the city of Lahore was no longer what it used to be. Shri Nathji described the situation in his Urdu verse:
Khair too Saaki sahi magar pilaayegaa too kisse
Ab na vo maikash rahe baaki na maikhaane rahe
True, that thou art a Saki, but who willst thou give to drink?
Gone are the drinkers of wine, and gone the drinking taverns!
However Shri Nathji, as was his wont, in all his humility, blamed himself for not changing the hearts of the people, in this verse:
Shamaa maafil hoke jab too soz se khaali rahaa
Tere parvaane bhee iss lazzat se begaane rahe
When Thou, the flame of this gathering, remained without fire,
Thy moths too remained bereft of the taste of burning
Shri Nathji’s heart wept for the humanity around him. He knew of the great tribulation that was to come. He, who could not bear to see the sorrow of even one person, was to see the afflictions of thousands. And yet, all this had to be accepted as the Will of God, which man could neither question nor deny but only accept.