During the days when Shri Babaji Maharaj was progressing rapidly on the spiritual path, the forces of nature became arrayed against him to deflect him from his goal and to weaken his resolve. But there was no power on earth that could stop Shri Babaji Maharaj, as the following incident will show.
While he was at Haridwar, all of a sudden he fell very ill. The illness took such a serious turn that for a while it appeared as if there was no hope of his recovery. Shri Babaji Maharaj had become so ill that he could not even get up from his bed. His body had become ravaged by uncontrolled dysentery and he was reduced to a skeleton. Fortunately his cousin was with him during this critical period, and she looked after Shri Babaji Maharaj with great love and devotion. But Shri Babaji Maharaj was not concerned about the illness at all. He appeared to be observing the scene of his illness as if it were a dream which he was beholding. Or else he thought of it as something that had come to him from his Eternal Friend and thus grew to love it.
Shri Babaji Maharaj had often said: “This body is like a tavern in which two guests invariably come and go–and these are joy and sorrow. The host must greet his guests with a smile, for a guest is one who has come only to go.”
Sometimes Shri Babaji Maharaj would recite this verse of Ghalib:
Naghmaa haaye gham ko bhee ai dil ghaneemat jaaniye
Be sadaa ho jaayegaa ye saaze hasti ek din
Look upon these songs of sorrow as a boon, O heart!
For it shall become silent one day, this Instrument of Existence!
Shri Babaji Maharaj would say: “We have not to be sorrowful or pleased with the vicissitudes of life, for it is in the nature of the world to change this way and that!
“Who does not know how to take happiness in happiness? A sage is one who knows how to take joy in sorrow, how to see life in death, how to find peace in unrest, how to find solitude amongst crowds. One who can live anywhere, who can find the joy of freedom in bondage.”
Shri Babaji Maharaj would often say to Shri Nathji: “Beta! Son! There is no such thing as death in the world. To desire life and to be afraid of death – therein lies death. There is no such thing as poverty in the world. To desire wealth and to run away from poverty – that alone is poverty. There is no such thing as dishonour in the world. To desire honour and to be afraid of dishonour – that alone is dishonour. There is no such thing as bondage. To desire freedom and to be afraid of bondage is, in fact, bondage. To not to remain happy in one’s present circumstances is, in fact, sorrow and suffering.”
Shri Babaji Maharaj would often say:
“I am content with what God has given me as my share,
And commit to my Creator my every care;
To do good in the past has been indeed His Will, He will do good as well in what is to come still!”
For Shri Babaji Maharaj there was no such thing as sorrow in the world. Whenever any great trouble would come the way of Shri Babaji Maharaj he would be seen dancing with joy. And he would even recite his favourite verse:
Yoon to ai sayyaad aazaadi men hain laakhon maze,
Magar daam ke neeche pharrakne kaa tamaashaa aur hai
Though there be a thousand joys in freedom, O hunter!
Yet the delight of struggling beneath the net is something unique!
Shri Babaji Maharaj would say about troubles that came one’s way in life: “Look! All this is coming to you from God. Try to be happy in it! No matter what comes your way, convert it into the Face of the Beloved! Look upon adversity as a means to attaining real bliss, and learn to love the adversity!”
Shri Babaji Maharaj would sometimes say: “Perhaps you think I have grown old. But I, for my part, do not even consciously remember whether my body is with me or not!”
He said one day: “People say that it is difficult to rise above thoughts and desires. But I find no activity of any kind within my heart!”
“Yogis and saints who reached the goal after numerous penances and many austerities were very surprised on reaching the destination, and began weeping, saying: ‘Oh, it involved nothing after all!’”
Shri Babaji Maharaj made the profound statement, the real meaning of which only he could understand:
“It takes some time to pluck a flower from its stalk, but God-Realisation does not take even this much of time! It takes time for the twinkling of the eyelashes, but it does not take even this much of time to attain God!”
It was the observation of Shri Nathji, in his own words: “ I have often felt that the illusion of the material world, Maya, referred to by the philosophers–the Vedantis– is in fact non-existent for Shri Babaji Maharaj! The temptations of the world have no meaning for him, and the sorrows of the world simply do not exist as far as he is concerned!”
There was a time when a wealthy Sikh, Baldev Singh of Dehra Dun, had come to Shri Babaji Maharaj and said to him: “I have built a house called Mohini Bhavan–The Enticing Bungalow. If the place can lure your heart then I shall say it is indeed Mohini Bhavan otherwise I shall say I had named it wrongly.”
And Shri Babaji Maharaj said to him: “Baldev Singh, let alone your Mohini Bhavan, but neither–Indralok- the abode of the gods, nor–Brahmalok– the abode of Brahma, can now lure my heart, for it knows of their ephemeral nature. But there is one thing you possess which can attract me–and that is your Love!”
Bachashme aashikaan ghair az Khudaa hech
Zameeno aatisho aabo havaa hech
In the eyes of the lovers of God, everything is nothing, except Him
The earth, fire, water and air, all are nothing.
There were times when Shri Babaji Maharaj would recite the following verse in Persian in which he showed that the world around man is a mere deception:
Aitbaare vaadaahaaye mardame duniyaa ghalat
Haan ghalat, aare ghalat, imshab ghalat, fardaa ghalat,
The promises of worldly men are a deception,
They are wrong, this night is wrong, tomorrow night is wrong,
Nuskhaye beenaayiye deevaane umre maa mapurs
Khud ghalat, mazmoon ghalat, inshaa ghalat, imlaa ghalat
Ask me not for the prescription that illumines the thesis of my life,
I am wrong, my prose is wrong, my direction wrong and my dictation wrong!
It was merely the abject humility of Shri Babaji Maharaj that he deigned to quote such a verse, even though he was the personification of perfection itself, one without a fault, in whom everything was right and nothing was wrong, and in whom the fire of ego, his “I” had died a long time ago.
Shri Babaji Maharaj was in a state of jubilation during the phase of his acute illness at Haridwar; he was like the petal of a rose floating upon the surface of water, free from the fears of drowning. The life- threatening illness lasted for one and a half months. At the end of this period, a mahatma, sage, appeared mysteriously at his door and sought to speak with Shri Babaji Maharaj.
Mahatma: “I have not come of my own will, but have been sent by Guru Gorakhnath. He has sent a message for you.”
Shri Babaji: What message has he sent?
Mahatma: He said to ask you whether you know why you have fallen ill?
Shri Babaji: Since I have no relationship with the illness, I have never bothered to find out why it came.
Mahatma: I have come here on his behalf to tell you the reason for your illness.
Shri Babaji: Then please say what you will.
Mahatma: Guru Gorakhnathji has asked me to tell you that at this time, Indra, the king of the devtaas-angels- in heaven, has turned against you. He has caused you to become ill.
Shri Babaji: I have not harmed him in any way, why, then, should he turn against me?
Mahatma: The reason I have been told is, that the king of the devtaas had become jealous of your ascendancy in the spiritual realm and was afraid lest you displace him and take over his throne.
Shri Babaji: If that is so, then tell him that I am in a state where I covet nothing. I have no need for his throne. I have gone to that place which exists beyond his realm.
Mahatma: Yes, Indra and the devtaas know that now. They know that you do not covet their wealth or glory or spiritual status and that you have gone far beyond them. They had sent this illness upon you so that you may be shaken from your firm resolve out of fear and infirmity, and may fall short of your goal. But now they have realised that you are indifferent to everything in the world except God, and would, therefore, have no concern for their status and glory. They are now content in this knowledge and have realised their mistake. You will therefore recover very shortly.
And that was exactly what happened. Immediately after the appearance of the mahatma, Shri Babaji Maharaj got well. The divinity of Shri Babaji Maharaj was such as to make even the devtaas envy him. But they realised soon enough that he was not interested in their thrones nor their status and glory.
Hoor par aankh na daale kabhi shaidaa teraa
Sab se begaanaa hai ai dost shanaasaa teraa
Thy lover shall not cast a glance at the fairies of heaven,
He is different from all else, he, who is in love with Thee!
However, what was remarkable during this period of illness was the absolute indifference of Shri Babaji Maharaj to his body, as if the body did not exist for him. The combat of Shri Babaji Maharaj with the illness was like the struggle of someone powerful against a non-entity.
Shri Babaji Maharaj would narrate in a light vein: “A mosquito sat upon the neck of a bull for some time. When he was about to leave, he said to the bull: ‘Forgive me, O friend, for being a burden on thee!’ And the bull replied: ‘ It was no burden at all. Next time you can bring all your family members as well!’”
This was how Shri Babaji Maharaj had been treating the illnesses that came to his body. Diseases glanced off the rock-like faith of Shri Babaji Maharaj like hailstones from a mountain.
Pukhtaa tabon par havaadas kaa naheen hotaa asar
Kohsaaron men nishaane nakshepaa miltaa naheen
The strong in heart are affected not by suffering,
They are like the footprints that cannot be found in rock.