St. Andrews was located on a small hill above the Mall Road. Adjacent to the main house were the outhouses of St. Andrews. Shri Nathji had not been able to purchase these because of financial constraints. The outhouses were in a dismal shape and nobody lived in them. The estate agent who had sold St. Andrews to Shri Nathji had sold the outhouses to someone else. Even though the owner of the outhouses did not live in them, he sought to create trouble for Shri Nathji.
Shri Nathji had bought the property and accepted whatever maps the estate agent had given him. In the maps the main iron gate of St. Andrews had been shown as part of the outhouses. This was a strange anomaly. How could one enter or leave St. Andrews without going through the main gate? Even if the gate were shown as part of the outhouses in the maps, Shri Nathji still had the right of way, also known as the right of easement under law. Therefore he was perfectly justified in using the main gate for his means of ingress and egress from his residence, St. Andrews.
The kitchen of St. Andrews, which was inside the iron gate of the house, was also shown in the maps as part of the outhouses. Apparently something was wrong with the manner in which the maps had been made.
Shri Nathji had been using the kitchen for the past one year without any let or hindrance from anyone and had assumed it was part of the St. Andrews house.
Shri Nathji, Mateshwari and the children continued to live in St. Andrews unaware of the diabolical plot that was being hatched behind their backs.
On the 9th of August 1948, Shri Nathji was upstairs in his bedroom, writing as usual in the morning. Mateshwari had gone to Hampton Court School to leave the children there.
Downstairs, there was the elder sister of Mateshwari, Veeran Devi, as also the local washerman’s wife, the dhobin, who had come for the clothes, and her son, a young boy. Inside the kitchen there was the frail Mannu Lal who had come all the way from Sagar hundreds of miles away to be with Shri Nathji on his birthday, and who had stayed on thereafter to serve him.
Suddenly ten people entered the house through the main gate. They accosted Veeran Devi and asked to see Shri Nathji. The unsuspecting Veeran Devi thought that they had all come for the darshan of Shri Nathji. She sent word inside through Mannu Lal.
Shri Nathji saw the men from the window upstairs. He was ever ready to meet anyone who came for his darshan. Shri Nathji existed only for those who came to him. He immediately began to dress. He wrapped his turban around his head, put on his achkan, and came downstairs, and went into the open space outside the verandah where the men were waiting for him.
As soon as he came downstairs, his eyes met with a very strange sight. The persons who had entered the Iron Gate of the house were busy locking it from within.
As Shri Nathji made his appearance, they began walking towards him in a group. Sensing that these men had evil intentions, Shri Nathji said in a loud voice:
Khabardaar! No one dare advance!
The voice was so powerful and its vibrations so strong, that the ten men stopped in their tracks, paralysed.
The leader amongst them took out a revolver from his pocket and advanced towards Shri Nathji, saying: I am strong enough, alone.
He placed the revolver on Shri Nathji’s chest and said: I can shoot you.
“If you do not want good things to exist in India then shoot,” said Shri Nathji unperturbed, “but let me tell you that you cannot fire the revolver. It is in your hand, but your hand is in the hand of God. If it be the Divine Will that I live on this earth and do his work, then you cannot fire the revolver! But if it be His will that my work has come to an end, then shoot!”
“Agar too chaahataa hai ke Bharat men achhee cheezen naa rahen to chalaa goli! Magar yaad rahe, ye revolver tere haathh men hai, aur teraa haathh Bhagwan ke haathh men hai. Agar maine uskaa kaam duniyaan men aur karnaa hai to teri revolver naheen chalegi. Aur agar meraa kaam khatam ho chukaa hai, to chalaa revolver!”
The man’s hand began to tremble. He felt the presence of a powerful spiritual force that had begun to tear at his very inner being. He could not face Shri Nathji and sought to go around to his back, his pistol still pointing at Shri Nathji. However, Shri Nathji turned around along with him. This led to a very strange scene – the man encircling Shri Nathji, and Shri Nathji turning along with him, facing his pistol all the time.
At that very instant, Mateshwari appeared on the scene by a miracle. She looked up at Shri Nathji, and Shri Nathji said to her:
Mateshwariji, these people have come to shoot me! Mataji ye log mujhe shoot karne aaye hain!”
Mateshwari let out a cry and raced upwards towards the assailants in the house. All the ten persons panicked and ran, gripped by an indefinable terror. Mateshwari had saved Shri Nathji.
Her voice had been so loud that many persons walking on the Mall Road below the hill heard it and came running up the hill slope.
The lock on the gate, with which the intruders had hoped to entrap Shri Nathji, became a barrier for them in their escape. As the loyal poet Mannu Lal ran after them muttering curses, the miscreants leapt over the gate one by one, stumbling and falling, even as they fled along the mountain path above and beyond Kasmanda Lodge.
Shri Nathji attacked by a revolver, telegrams went out to many people. Mr. Bhutt, who was in Delhi, immediately left office without leave; Mrs. Gangabai Bhutt accompanied him. The Air-Force officer from Bombay, Shri Sukhdev, who was also a staunch devotee of Shri Nathji, also prepared to come. Mr. R. R. Khanna arrived at Shri Nathji’s residence. Many searched the hospitals of Mussoorie.
Mr. and Mrs. Bhutt would not stop crying even when they were before Shri Nathji. The very thought was unimaginable for them.
It was all part of Shri Nathji’s manushya leela, his drama, on earth. The powers of darkness would strike again and again through their agents on earth. It was the eternal struggle between good and evil.
A meeting was held at the Savoy Hotel at Mussoorie where the prominent citizens of the town gathered together and sought an apology from the men behind the misdeed. Shri Nathji forgave the would-be assailants and the matter came to an end. But it was a grim reminder of the fact that Ravana was still alive in the hearts of numerous of his followers upon earth and that the life of Shri Nathji, the gentlest and the most loving of all men upon earth, was perpetually in danger.
Though many people tried to persuade Shri Nathji to change his residence from Mussoorie to some other city, Shri Nathji continued to stay on. He had faced the revolver attack with equanimity. It was a situation in which most men would have panicked. Shri Nathji continued to stay on there despite pleas by his devotees, especially the Bhutts, to move down to Delhi at once.
When Maharaja Sarila met Shri Nathji in later days he said: “Swamiji, it was too bad we were not in Mussoorie at that time or else we would have gunned the assailants down. Hamne unhen goliyon se urraa denaa thhaa!”
As the people of Mussoorie continued to come for Shri Nathji’s darshan to express their sorrow at the incident, Seth Mohan Lal, one of the leading citizens of the town, who had great respect and reverence for Shri Nathji, came and said to him: “Maharaj! Bure kaa saath theek naheen! It is not safe to live close to an antagonist. Either leave St. Andrews or else purchase the outhouses if they are for sale.”
Shri Nathji made plans to purchase the outhouses, which were for sale. However, the price was about Rs.18,000. Mateshwari had already spent her savings on the purchase of the main house, St. Andrews.
All the same, Rs.2000 were paid to the owner of the outhouses and an agreement was entered into to purchase the outhouses. The remainder was to be paid in October 1948, before possession of the outhouses could be taken by Mateshwari and Shri Nathji.