Shri Nathji often made people laugh by telling them humorous anecdotes. He would narrate the humorous instances of his own life to his children, Mateshwari, and a close circle of devotees, especially Sahadeva and Bhutt Sahib and Shyam Lal Kasera, who were all thrilled by them. A few of these are given below.
Shri Nathji would relate how he had a cook, Ratti Ram, in the house at the time that the Cottage was being made. Ratti Ram would frequently come over to supervise Ralla Singh, the carpenter, and interpose and interjet, till Ralla Singh became peeved and said to Ratti Ram in chaste Punjabi:
“To ai kahe main ai karaan, too o kahe main o karaan!
Te das bhayi Ratti Rama, main kee karaan main kee karaan!
“You say, do this, and I must do it, you say, do that, and I must do that,
Tell me, then, O Ratti Rama, what it is that I must do, and ever do!
Shri Nathji would enjoy recalling, how, after the revolver attack on him, he was walking on the Mall Road with R.R. Khanna and a certain Shri Mansaram of Mussoorie. As R.R. Khanna spoke in belligerent terms against the attackers, Mansaram said with awe: “Aapne to barre barron ke chhakke chhurraaye hain!–You have straightened out even the greatest of the great!”
Shri Nathji would also humorously narrate how a certain Hamam Chand was listening to his talk while little drops of rain were falling on a tin receptacle. The drops of rain made a sound of ‘tipu-tippu’ as they fell. Haman Chand was agreeing with everything that Shri Nathji said, and saying: “Jee, jee, haanjee!” The combination of the rain-drops on the tin and the interjections of Haman Chand made his words into a rhythmic, almost musical, poetry that went:
“Jee! tipu-tippu, haanjee! tipu tippu,
Jee! tipu-tippu, haanjee! tipu tippu!”
Sometimes Shri Nathji would laugh at these episodes till the tears ran down his cheeks. Those listening to him were invariably in stitches. Shri Nathji would wash away all their worries in a flood of laughter.
Shri Nathji always referred to humour as “instant salvation”.
Shri Nathji spoke of the pandit who would visit Shri Babaji Maharaj and sit for long hours before him, exclaiming: Sat-sat! True, true! And even as Shri Babaji Maharaj would begin to speak faster and faster, divulging a greater wealth of spiritual secrets, the pandit would exclaim: Sat-sat! Sat-sat! with greater and greater rapidity. The climax of the event would occur when Shri Babaji Maharaj would begin speaking with lightning speed, and the pandit’s voice would accompany him with a continuous sizzle: Sat-sat-sat-sat-sat-sat!
Shri Nathji also spoke of the doctor who would visit him frequently when he was ill, and who would shut out all visitors, advising Shri Nathji complete rest. In the process, he would sit before Shri Nathji for long periods of time, making Shri Nathji talk to him, and tiring him out completely!
Shri Nathji spoke of his faithful attendant, Basant Singh, who had spent over twenty years serving him. Basant Singh would invariably fail to take a bath for days, and even weeks on end, in the severe cold of Mussoorie. Shri Nathji urged him very strongly to take a bath one particular day, but Basant Singh avoided the bath on some pretext or the other. That night he stepped into an open septic tank with a splash! It was an unusual bath–one that required a series of fresh baths with soap and water. Thereafter Basant Singh never disobeyed his Master again!
There was another time when Shri Nathji was sitting out in the open lawn at Shadi Bhavan while Basant Singh was working in the kitchen. Shri Nathji heard the sound of running water from a tap that had been left open, and he called out to Basant Singh: “Basant Singhji! Nalkaa baih reyaa hai! Water is running from the tap! Go and stop it!” Upon hearing Shri Nathji’s voice, Basant Singh immediately came running out to him with an open handkerchief in his hand and applied it to Shri Nathji’s nose! He had mistaken the word ‘nalkaa-tap’ for ‘naak-nose’, i.e. he had assumed Shri Nathji had a running nose and had brought the handkerchief for him!
At another time Shri Nathji developed stomach trouble because of frequent feedings of cocoa by his faithful attendant, Basant Singh. The latter had become so fond of cocoa that he would prepare it every few hours and give it to Shri Nathji, taking a cup himself, in the process! Justice Rangilal, who was always very concerned about Shri Nathji’s health, and who found himself always at loggerheads with his attendants, instantly probed into Shri Nathji’s diet, and identified cocoa as the culprit–or rather, Basant Singh.
Basant Singhji, he said to the loyal attendant in chaste Punjabi, Saade pyo daade ne vi kadi ainnee cocoa peeteesee? Did our fathers or grandfathers ever drink so much of cocoa in their entire life-times?
Shri Nathji would laugh very heartily whenever he recounted these episodes, and those around him would find themselves in a world of bliss. It was a joyous moment when Shri Nathji laughed. The world was filled with greater happiness. While he sat and laughed at any one place, his laughter echoed across the globe in the form of a wave of happiness that swept people’s hearts.
At one time in Lahore, Shri Nathji was about to sit on a chair, when Justice Rangilal pointed out: Sir! Stop! There are pieces of broken glass strewn on the seat! And Justice Rangilal was very angry with Shri Nathji’s attendants for negligence. He said to Shri Nathji, Aapkaa to rabb hi raakhaa hai! God alone must look after you! No one else here seems to be careful enough!
When Shri Nathji fell ill in Mussoorie due to negligence in cooking, Justice Rangilal who was an old man, ran to the bazaar and procured Amrit Dhaaraa which he administered to Shri Nathji three times a day, visiting Shri Nathji three times a day in the process, because he wouldn’t trust any of Shri Nathji’s attendants to give the medicine in time! Such was the great love Shri Nathji inspired in his devotees.
Shri Nathji would often amuse the children with ancedotes about Sohan Singh, another faithful attendant, who often tried to make Shri Nathji laugh, to relieve him of the fatigue of the day. The latter would frequently respond with Huzoor! meaning Sir! or Sarkaar! meaning Your Lordship! whenever Shri Nathji would call out to him. But, there were occasions when Shri Nathji would call out: Sohan Singhji! and his attendant would reply with a loud: Hazaar! What? Shri Nathji would ask, and his attendant would say: Sarkoor! The words would be a hotch-potch mixture of Huzoor and Sarkaar.
Such indeed, was the masti, the state of divine intoxication that the devotees of Shri Nathji felt in his presence, that they were apt to forget themselves completely.
Sohan Singh always tried to entertain Shri Nathji as best as he could. Whenever Shri Nathji would eat his meals, Sohan Singh would stand around him barking facetiously, Woof! Woof! asking for prasaad from Shri Nathji’s thaali.
Do you know why you treat us with such love? he once said to Shri Nathji, it is because you are afraid that, bedaam ghulaam, unsalaried slaves that we are, we might run away!
And Shri Nathji laughed and said: I am not worried that you might run away. Mujhe to dar hai kaheen meri peshgeeyaan lekar na bhag jaayen! I am worried you might run away with the advance I have given you!
Shri Nathji was referring to the spiritual wealth he had given his attendant.
Once Shri Nathji was travelling from Lucknow to Lahore by train. He had his faithful attendant, Sohan Singh, with him. As the train approached Ludhiana station, Shri Nathji complained of weakness and giddiness. Sohan Singh was in a state of great worry and despair. What could he do to make his master well? Just, then, the train stopped, and a tall figure clad in a thick overcoat entered the compartment. It was Justice Rangilal of the Punjab High Court. He had brought with him a large basket of flowers for Shri Nathji, which a coolie carried inside the compartment.
Shri Nathji was so overjoyed to meet his devotee that his love went out in a divine flow of words that took Justice Rangilal to another world. After Justice Rangilal had left the compartment, Sohan Singh turned to Shri Nathji and said: Huzoor! Here I was dying with worry for your sake! And there you were, your face flushed with colour, speaking with great exhuberance! What a wonderful scene it was! I wish I had a camera with me! Please do not test me like this in the future! It kills me with worry! I do not like dramatics that depict you as a sick man!”
Shri Nathji had this peculiar habit of taking all kinds of illnesses and symptoms upon himself, which were really reflections of the sufferings of the humanity around him. He would narrate them to the devotees closest to him, in all probability to test their love for him.
R. R. Khanna had a complaint similar to that of Sohan Singh. He had even gone on a hunger strike to protest against Shri Nathji taking other people’s illnesses upon himself. So perturbed was he at this phenomenon that he would never take Shri Nathji close to any hospital for fear Shri Nathji would take upon himself unidentifiable symptoms and illnesses!
Once he said to Shri Nathji in a light vein: Huzoor! All the blood in my body has been drained already from worrying over your health. I suggest you tell your symptoms and complaints to that large, over-sized friend of yours, M. P. Khanna. He must have plenty of blood in him and could do with a loss in weight!
Shri Nathji would also narrate how he met an exhuberant devotee who wished that Shri Nathji stay at his house that night and he said to Shri Nathji: “Aaj raat aap mere hee charanon men rahiyegaa! You must stay in my feet tonight!” He had meant: “Aaj raat aap mere ghar men charan daaliyegaa! Please grace my home with your feet tonight!”
Shri Nathji had a high word of praise for humour and humorists. They make the world laugh, and relieve it of its sorrows, though temporarily! Indirectly, they are doing the same work that science and religion are doing–to increase happiness in the world. Humour is instant happiness. It is like the brief flash of light in an otherwise dark world. Every little light–be it that of a candle, or a lamp, or of the bulb, or the stars, or the moon–is trying to dispel the darkness of sorrow in this world. They can succeed partially, and to that extent they are useful! Complete darkness can only be removed by the Sun, however!
Shri Nathji had seen films of Charlie Chaplin during his earlier days, and always enjoyed the recollections. He would mention the scene of Hitler and Mussolini in one of Charlie Chaplin’s portrayals. Each of the characters would seek to rise above the other, to climb higher than the other. One instant, Hitler would be on top, and another instant, Mussolini would be on his head. This continued until the two reached a height from which they both came tumbling down!
It was precisely the state of affairs Shri Nathji described–the futility of possessing the material world.
Shri Nathji also had a great love for Laurel and Hardy whose films he saw frequently with his children, Pran Nath and Priya Nath. When both Laurel and Hardy passed away, Shri Nathji was genuinely saddened at their departure from the world, and said: The world has been left bereft of so much humour. My blessings are always with them. They must be in heaven now, making God laugh. Surely their souls must have attained salvation for the happiness they brought to countless millions!
It was no wonder that Laurel and Hardy, while they were alive, were intensely humble men, with a real faith in God. God bless you, was their famous theme. Shri Nathji never met them in the flesh, but they were ever alive in his mind. He placed them in the category of saints and sages. Shri Nathji would often say in Persian:
Khandaa roo boodan beh az ganje gauhar bakhsheedan ast
Taa Tavaani bark kaboodan abre neesaani mabaash
Thy smile is worth more than the giving of treasures galore,
Flash thou this smile of lightning, and not the rain of weeping clouds!
If you give one heart happiness in any way whatsoever, you will be richly rewarded by God, Shri Nathji used to say, Imagine, then, the reward of those who give happiness to millions of hearts!
Once when Shri Nathji said that his happiness had gone up on seeing his devotees before him, a pandit who was sitting there said: “But, Maharaj! How can you say that your happiness has increased? We look upon you as poorna-perfect. And there can be no change in that which is perfect. Poorna men to vridhee naheen hoti hai!”
And Shri Nathji said: “The ocean is perfect in its vastness. But it can give rise to tidal waves in itself!
Saagar apne men poorna hai, magar jwaar bhattaa to uss men bhee aa jaati hai!”