Shri Nathji was about sixteen years old. He had been living with Shri Babaji Bhagwan at Amritsar, rarely manifesting his Divine Light. But even then, many persons had begun to see the Divine Light in him and he was loved and respected by people of all religious faiths. People were astonished that so much of divinity could exist in one so young an age. Whenever he spoke, his words carried such an indefinable power and love that they went directly to the hearts of his listeners and converted them.
While Shri Nathji was in Amritsar, a group of Maulvis sent a challenge to him asking for a debate. His fame had travelled far and wide. Shri Nathji was greatly admired and loved by the Muslims and this had led the Maulvis to try and decipher the cause of this admiration and love. What did Shri Nathji possess which could grip the hearts of people of all religious faiths? Shri Nathji had spoken to the Muslims on the Holy Koran and re-enforced the precepts laid down in the Holy Book. More than that, the Muslims had been drawn towards him because of his personal charm and the magnetic attraction of his divine personality. The Sufis, in particular, considered Shri Nathji to be a great Sufi. To the Muslims he was a Muslim, to the Hindus a Hindu, to the Christians a Christian, and to the Sikhs a Sikh. To each he was his own.
Shri Nathji never did anything without the permission of his father, Shri Babaji Bhagwan. He asked him whether he should go and converse with these intellectuals. Shri Babaji gave him permission.
Shri Nathji wrote a letter to the Maulvis: Honoured Sirs! You are all very great and very learned, and, furthermore, you are all greatly advanced in years, while I am still a youth. How can a debate between us be befitting? If you will forgive me, it appears to me that this challenge of yours carries with it notions of victory and defeat. If this is the motivation, then let me tell you very clearly that I have never desired to score a victory over anyone, and that I am not ashamed to lose. Although you are very learned, still there is a possibility, howsoever small, that I might win, and that would make you unhappy. But my principle in life is to give happiness to others–my victory lies only in this. Therefore, I submit my defeat, here and now, in writing. You win and I lose. Victory is yours and contentment is mine, for I have made you happy.
In reply to this letter, the Maulvis stated very humbly that they merely wished to hear him speak.
Shri Nathji agreed to speak to the learned Maulvis. He was welcomed amongst them with great respect, and given a seat in their midst. But despite the outer civilities, their intentions appeared clear enough, and these were to try and embarass Shri Nathji. The divine attraction in Shri Nathji was such that it caused all to stare at him with awe even though they regarded Shri Nathji as a Hindu and considered themselves of a separate faith. Such boundaries did not exist for Shri Nathji.
Shri Nathji said: Thirst forces one to think of water, hunger forces one to think of food–but what could have caused you learned intellectuals to think of me?
The head Maulvi of the group replied: We wish only to hear your words.
Should I speak as I wish, or should I answer your questions first? Shri Nathji asked.
We would want you to answer our questions, said the Maulvi.
Ask, therefore, whatever you wish to ask, said Shri Nathji, if I can answer your questions I shall be happy, otherwise your questions shall become mine and I shall attempt to seek out an answer from somewhere else.
The Head Maulvi in the group said: We want you to prove the existence of God.
Shri Nathji smiled and said: Maulvi Sahib, I believe you have accepted Islam. Tell me, which came first, God or Islam? Did the existence of God establish Islam or did Islam establish the existence of God?
The Maulvi was badly shaken. No, no, he said, God came first, Islam was established later.
And Shri Nathji said: Your existence as a Muslim proves the existence of Islam, and Islam exists because God exists. Therefore, your very existence is proof enough of the existence of God. One need not seek to establish the existence of That One Thing which is the foundation of every religion and everything else that exists before us. It is like the fourth storey of a building asking whether the foundation exists, or like the bubble of water asking whether water exists. The world need not seek to prove the existence of That Thing which proves the existence of the world. The movements of the orderly Universe around us are proof enough of the fact that something is controlling it. The poet of this divine poetry lies concealed, but to look upon the poem is to visualise the wonderful poet hidden somewhere. The Artist is revealed in his art. The mirror of the world reflects the face of God. The existence of sorrow in this world and the search for eternal happiness prove the existence of God. These and many other examples can give us ample proof of the existence of God–if, indeed, proofs are needed.
The gathering of Maulvis was greatly pleased with Shri Nathji, and somewhat irked at the head Maulvi who had put the question.
Oh, I certainly accept the existence of God, said the embarrassed Maulvi, I was merely interested in listening to his learned and intellectual descriptions.
The Maulvi then put another question, Can you tell me which religion is the best?
Shri Nathji laughed: Maulvi Sahib, kyaa aap doubt men hain? Maulvi Sahib are you in doubt? The best religion must be the one you chose, or did you choose it in doubt? Go on walking on the path you have chosen. There is but one religion. There are different roads that lead to it. The goal is one, the routes different. Let one go on walking on his chosen path and do you walk on yours. The final goal is the same. All the rivers flow down to the same ocean.
After this, Shri Nathji said the time had come to discard questions and to listen to the voice of his heart and soul.
And he began speaking. His words came out in an overpowering deluge that took his listeners to another world. He spoke continuously for one and a half hours. There was peace in the atmosphere, a divine calm. When Shri Nathji stopped, the people awakened from a divine meditation.
In the ensuing silence, Shri Nathji said: Can you tell me how much time has elapsed? Were you aware of your existence or my own? Had you a thought for yourself or for me? Did you know which religion was yours and which was mine? Did you know who was greater, you or me? Did you know what I was saying and what you were listening to? Were you aware of the differences in religion amongst the people assembled here? Were you aware of space and time? Were there any questions in your mind, and were you waiting for any answers? What was that state in which you and I existed? That is all that I wish to ask of you!
The assembled group said:
We have no answers! We can only say that we were not aware of either space or time, we were not conscious of our own identities or yours; we were not conscious of what you were saying and what we were listening to! It is a great wonder, indeed! Our watches tell us now that one and a half hours have passed, but we were not conscious of the passage of time. We were taken away into a world of intoxication.
“An ocean of bliss appeared before us and had drowned our selves. There were neither questions nor answers before us. It was a heavenly bliss that absorbed us. It was an unforgettable experience which shall always bring our minds back to this day!
Shri Nathji said: This was the answer to your question–the best religion is that which takes one away from one’s ‘1’ and which obliterates the differences between the various diversities that exist before us. The best religion is that which brings a feeling of oneness, of unity, and which raises man above his ego, and takes him to God, which causes the bubble-like entity of man to burst and mingle into the Ocean of Existence.
Yes, said the learned assembly, that is what we feel. We have but only one question that we would like to ask you: when can we have the fortune of listening to your words again? You are young, but your soul is Great. You have brought a message of love, of truth, and faith, which can efface the diversity that exists in mankind, which can bring man closer to man, and which can bring all of mankind to God.
Here was the revelation of an indefinable, divine bliss that no worldly happiness could ever match. It was a bliss that could only be experienced in the presence of God.
In later years, a man came to Shri Nathji and marvelled at his prowess in winning over people of all religious faiths. He was Goswami Guru Dutt, then president of the Sanatan Dharam in India.
How is it that you can win over such orthodox and bigoted religionists whom we cannot even touch despite numerous efforts? he asked.
The reason I can win them over, said Shri Nathji, is because 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 being different from myself.