A brief life sketch given by Sant Kirpal Singh in Hindi on one occasion of the birth anniversary of Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj, SSE July 1970
What a magnificent life must be his, who lives like us in the world, but who reaches the highest spiritual level! On this occasion I would like to mention something of the outer life of that personality at whose feet I had the good fortune to sit. He was the Sant Satguru of the time, and the Emperor of Spirituality.
The great day that Hazur Maharaj Ji appeared in the world in the physical form was Tuesday 27th July 1858. By the Indian calender it was 13th Sawan 19 15-Vikermi. The place was Mehmawala, which is now in Pakistan. His father, Kabal Singh Grewal, was in the Army and his mother's name was Jeevni. The privilege of being the parents of such a great personality must surely be founded on some noble background from past lives. From very early age Kabal Singh frequently kept the company of holy men, serving them with sincerity, and because of this Baba Sawan Singh Ji had the opportunity of doing the same, remaining constantly at his father's side up to the year 1870. The passion to serve and be near godly men developed within him and he spent every available spare moment in this way, from 1870 to 1878. After passing his tenth class in 1878 he took some employment, but became sick and was called home, where he stayed for two years.
The lives of those who are destined to take the dear souls across the river of life are pre-designed to prepare them for the important work. In this period of two years, Hazur met a great renunciate, an expert in Vedanta and Yoga by the name of Bhoop Singh Ji, and benefited greatly from the time spent in his company. As a result, Hazur was filled with the desire to renounce the world and become a sadhu. Profound thinking does not arise from merely another's promoting, but is already there, from the Beyond. A hen may good-naturedly hatch a nestful of eggs in which some duck eggs have been mixed, but when the little birds come out and go near the pond, the ducklings will jump in and start swimming and the chicks will stand and gaze in wonder. Similarly, wise souls are not earthly but heavenly beings. Guru Nanak was once made in charge of a shop in Sultanpur, and one day whilst carrying out his duties a fakir approached him and remarked, "We do not come into this world for this." That very day Guru Nanak left everything and "tightened his belt" ready to serve humanity for its upliftment.
From a very early age the conscious awareness of his predisposition toward spiritual things and aversion to worldly affairs was deeply embedded in Baba Sawan Singh's heart. However, truly exalted souls conceal their own inclinations and perform whatever tasks the worldly duties demand. Whenever he had a tendency to renounce the world he would thrust aside the noble aspiration in consideration of his parents, for being the only son he preferred to serve them, knowing that a renunciate may not serve according to his choice but must be prepared to serve humanity at large – wherever its need may call him.
This is indicative of Hazur's great wisdom, for he who shirks his duty will never reach perfection. Up to 1883, when the Master was 25 years old, his time was spent as described. Sardar Kabal Singh Ji then persisted that he should enter military service, and approached his commanding officer about a commission for his son. While this was being processed, Hazur started teaching at an army training school in Farukabad, but the company of illiterates, alcohol drinkers and meat eaters became unbearable, so he went to Roorkee and passed an entrance examination into the engineering course there. During his stay in Farukabad he spent his leisure hours on the banks of the Ganges, where he met many holy people, in particular a man by the name of Bhai Nihal Singh. He then got his commission in the army, but simultaneously he was given an offer in civil engineering, and preferring the latter, he accepted a post as overseer in Nowshera.
When searching for a place of residence there, some people told him about a lovely house which was available, but unfortunately was haunted by ghosts and unsuitable to live in due to the danger to life. Hazur persisted in taking the house, and the people were amazed to witness how the ghosts magically disappeared. He who belongs to the Lord of all creation has nothing to fear – men and angels are waiting to serve him. "All creation is at Thy feet, and Thou art in command over all creation."
Hazrat Ibrahim Aadam was the king of Balkbukhara, but he renounced his kingdom and became a fakir, actually the disciple of Kabir Sahib. He was on his way to make a return visit to his kingdom and sat down for a short rest beside a river when the ministers who had received news of his coming arrived to welcome him. They began to entreat him to reign over the kingdom once again and upon their continued persistence the king took a small sewing needle and threw it into the river. He then said to the ministers who came to him, "I command you to bring that needle back to me." The ministers protested, "That is an impossibility, but please give us time and we will bring you millions of needles." For reply, the king looked attentively at the river, and a fish rose up out of the water with the needle in its mouth. The king smiled and said, "I am the servant of He who is the Ruler of all creation, and the whole world is at my command." He who has surrendered himself to God is fearless, and indifferent to worldly things.
Baba Sawan Singh Ji always had an open mind, and studied all religions. Study can be a preparation of the ground, for the flowers to burst forth into bloom at a later date. In Nowshera, Hazur listened to the discourses of Baba Karam Singh of Mardan, and when he went to Peshawar he met Baba Kahan Ji, an enlightened soul, and spent many hours with him. One day Hazur requested, "Baba, give me something." But Baba Kahan replied, "No, I cannot give you what you want, but most surely you will get it-someone else will give it to you." Outwardly these people are simple men, but they are really the knowers of the three worlds. From Peshawar, Hazur was transferred to Kohmarie where he took a house near a famous gurudwara named Bhuramul Gurudwara. It was a place where the pilgrims and yogis rested on the way to Amar Nath, a Hindu place of pilgrimage, and Hazur spent his spare time talking with them about spiritual things. One can see how nature helps to build the inner strength of those destined to be spiritual giants, by keeping them surrounded by uplifting company.
The time passed by until the day arrived for the foundation to be laid which would eventually support the destiny of all humanity. The Perfect Master of that time was Baba Jaimal Singh Ji Maharaj, who was the chief disciple of Swami Ji Maharaj, and who, after Swamiji left the world, settled in the Punjab to carry out his spiritual mission. One day in August 1894, Baba Jaimal Singh Ji and a disciple were walking along the Koh-marie Road, where Hazur was inspecting the work in progress there, in his capacity as Sub-Divisional Officer. As Baba Jaimal Singh Ji passed by with his companion, he pointed to Hazur and said, "I have come here because of that person." The disciple remarked, "You have come for a funny person, who does not even turn his head to greet you." Babaji kindly explained, "This personage has come into this world specially for a very high expression of life, and after four days he will come to me." Hazur Maharaj came to Babaji in the company of one Mr. Sukh Dyal. After four days' Satsang he took initiation, and stayed near Baba Jaimal Singh Ji for two months. After Babaji left Koh-mark, Hazur spent most of his time in meditation and as the love for his Guru increased, his heart grew heavier with sadness at being separated from his Master. He would visit Babaji at every available opportunity to derive the invaluable blessing of his presence. Baba Jaimal Singh Ji lived on the edge of the River Beas, where in 1898 the foundation stone of the Dera Baba Jaimal Singh was laid and a Satsang hall built. Whenever his leave occurred Hazur would go straight to Beas and on arrival leave all his pay at Babaji's feet, from which Babaji would give him enough for his maintenance and send whatever was necessary for housekeeping to Hazur's wife. In all the thirty pears of working, Hazur Maharaj spent only a total of six months with his wife, for all his leave was spent with Babaji and he would visit his home only on orders from his Master.
In 1902 the foundation stone of the big Satsang hall was laid, and on completion of this building, Baba Jaimal Singh Ji said to Bibi Rukki, an enlightened soul who lived in the Dera, "I will not hold a Satsang in this hall." She started crying, but after some moments she asked, "Maharaj, who is going to hold the Satsangs after you?" Babaji said, "Go into the hall and see for yourself," and when she entered the empty hall she saw Baba Sawan Singh Ji quietly sitting on the dais. On 29th December, 1903, Baba Jaimal Singh Ji Maharaj left his physical form, after bestowing the spiritual work upon Baba Sawan Singh. Babaji had been heard to say that after him a very high soul would come and hold Satsang, and that the Dem would become seething with humanity. Up to then, only about 500-700 people around Beas and district had become his disciples. However, Hazur did not immediately leave his work, but came to live in the Dera on his retirement in 1911, when he then gave all his time to the spiritual work. Everyone is aware of the change that took place in the Dera during his residence there, where from merely one or two houses a small town shaped up through the years. A huge Tshaped Satsang hall was erected, with dimensions of 120 feet long in both directions dach 40 feet in width.
Whoever wanted the Truth came to him and gained the priceless boon, no matter to what religion they belonged. All were endowed with the riches of Spirituality. One might ask what lessons one can learn from the life of Baba Sawan Singh Ji. Without hesitation, the following observations can be upheld as food for study and an example to mankind: Chastity. In Shri Hazur Maharaj's life we find the highest virtue of brahmcharya (one who is chaste in thought, word, and deed). He was married at the age of about eleven or twelve, but according to custom, after the ceremony the girl returned to her parents' home without even seeing her husband. The final ceremony is normally performed after eight or ten years when the girl has matured, so after nine years had passed the arrangements were made, but unfortunately the girl died twenty days before the appointed date. Hazur was twenty years old at this time, and the second marriage was arranged when he was twenty-five, so this means twenty-five years of chaste life. Then during his thirty years of marriage he lived with his wife for only a sum total of six months. His wife's name was Krishna Vanti Ji and they had two sons – Bachint Singh and Harbans Singh. Hazur used to say, "By my own wish I was living a chaste life many years before Babaji left this world."
A keen student of literature, Hazur read enthusiastically his whole life through, and studied carefully whatever sacred books he could get. In his huge library of holy books selected from many sources, more than a thousand had annotations in his own hand throughout the pages. There are certain books which are not normally available to the public but Baba Sawan Singh Ji had many of these copied for his own library. Never idle. Hazur was always occupied with something – with either Satsang, meditation or reading holy books. His activeness started early in the morning and continued until late in the night.
Now a few words about the criterion of a true Master, although truly speaking only a Mahatma can recognize a Mahatma. However, there are indications for the keen observer.
A Mahatma's outer form has a certain attraction for the heart. They are not like cobblers who are concerned only with the leather or skin, but their attention is always on the soul. They are the Lord's messengers. Hazur used to say, "We are not here to make religions, so everyone should stay in whatever religion he already belongs to. The connection between you and me is through the soul. Get the connection with the Holy Naam."
Mahatmas always live on their own earnings and not on donations. Kabir Sahib, Guru Nanak Sahib, Maulana Rumi Sahib and others all earned their own sustenance. "Earn and give withyour own hands to others. 0 Nanak,only he who lives thus would know the True Path." They depend only upon God.
Hazur also had this criterion for he lived within his pension and performed free service unto others. His love and kindness extended to all souls, and with joyful enthusiasm he would spend up to eighteen hours per day in selfless service. Throughout his life, which was ninety years in length, Hazur cared little for rest and when he started his spiritual mission he devoted his whole time to awakening the souls. He taught the true seekers to live in the world and simultaneously progress in their meditation.
Mahatmas never encourage the peopleto be attached to outer worship, but explain that the true temple of God lies within man. Emerson also said, "Tap inside," meaning that one should search for God within. Bulleh Shah says,"When you seek the inner path, only then can the secret of the Godman be realized." Rise above the mind and the senses, and whilst living learn the secret of death. Learn this mystery, separate the awakenedness from the physical form, and reach to where your Satguruis waiting with mercy and love in both hands.
Whosoever has realized God has done so in the temple of the human form, and whosoever desires to realize God will have to do the same. This is the third criterion for judging a true Master, and Hazur Maharaj always taught the method of inversion. He repeatedly informed the seekers that salvation can only be achieved through the Holy Word, or Naam, and that Naam was the highest form of devotion of all the sadhnas." Hindus call it Nad, Urlgit and Shruti. Muslims call it Naqmai-i-Asmani, Kalam-i-lllahi, or Knirna. Christians call it the Word. The Lord manifested Himself into Creation through the form of the Shabd or Word, so if the soul gets a connection with the Holy Word, then it can reach back to God. "When you get the Shabd,you have got a contact with God. Through that service, everything isachieved." "Contact with Naam is the true devotion. There is no true worship without the Holy Naam. The whole world is in a delusion."
The Saints never interfere with outer forms and rituals, but give excellent advice for achieving the best results. Hazur would tell his followers, "The Word is within you just be devoted to that and nothing else." Those who search for God outwardly remain empty within. "He who forgets himself through the nine outlets (of the senses), will never find the priceless treasure lying within him."
I have briefly placed before you four criterions for judging a true Master, and all these could be seen in Hazur. There are also outer indications: a Mahatma's eye is deep as a lion's, the forehead is broad, his way of walking is graceful like a dove's. Hazur had all these features.
Masters also have a sign of the lotus on their foot. It has been written that Lord Krishna and Guru Amar Das both had this sign, and so did Hazur. Hafiz Sahib said, "If my Master takes possession of my heart, then I will give (in exchange) my faith, my world, my home here and here after, just to see the black mole on his face." Hazur Maharaj had a beautiful black mole on his face.
The lives of these great personalities cannot be fully understood by the common man. They are not simply man alone, but manifested God in man, and only those who have had the rare secret opened up to them can know what this means. Most other people think of them as atheists. On this very subject, Khusro Sahib once remarked, "People say that Khusro is the worshiper of a human being, and I say, 'Yes, I do it' and do not care for the world and its opinions." True seekers will sacrifice their mind and body for the privilege of the company of a true Mahatma.
Many seemingly miraculous things can happen around a true Master. I saw many amazing incidents through being connected with Hazur Maharaj Ji, from which I will tell of two. In the Holy Bible it is written that Jesus Christ gave sight to the blind. In the early thirties in Rawalpindi a lady lost her eyesight, and after consultation with the best specialist it was found that the optical nerves had shriveled, and there was no hope of recovering the sight. She could see nothing, though outwardly there seemed to be no difference. Inwardly however, she was constantly enjoying the darshan of Baba Sawan Singh Ji, and was therefore not at all dismayed. Two days of blindness passed, and on the third day I was sitting with her and her husband when she said, "The Master and another man are discussing something. The gentleman's beseeching Hazur, saying 'Hazur, have mercy please give her sight back.' Now Hazur is saying, 'Alright, alright."' The lady's husband, sitting with closed eyes, suddenly saw a brilliant light, and at exactly that time, the lady who was lying on the bed got up and ran across the room saying, "I can see, I can see." In anapparently magical way, her eyesight had been restored. There is also an account in the Bible of Jesus feeding five thousand people with a little bread in a basket, each one being fully fed and satisfied. Hazur used to visit his home town from time to time, usually accompanied by hundreds of followers, and there was always a free kitchen arrangement for them. On one visit there was a large group of Akalis, camped nearby for some special celebration. These Akalis were against Baba Sawan Singh's teachings, so they planned to bring disgrace upon him by going to his free kitchen after the meal had finished and the kitchen closed. Nearly three hundred of them sat down outside the kitchen door and demanded that food be served to them immediately. Someone told me what had happened and I hurried to the kitchen to find that there was just half a basket of bread. I called the cook and told him to light the fires and make more bread, but the three hundred people outside started shouting for food. Just then, Hazur entered the kitchen and said, "Kirpal Singh, why are you not giving them food?" I replied, "Hazur, there is only half a basket ful of bread, how can I feed three hundred people with that? We have to make more." Baba Sawan Singh smiled and said, "Fear not, but cover the basket with a cloth and go on serving the bread." I did as Hazur had instructed, and the three hundred men ate and ate until they could eat no more, and when the meal was finished there was still the same amount of bread left as there had been at the start.
It is very often considered that miracles are just stories invented out of the imagination, but in fact, very few people know what a miracle truly is. The word itself literally means "things which astonish." Coleridge says that the fact that Christ performed miracles was verification that he was carrying out his Father's orders. Locke says that miracles are like a letter of promise from God, which Saints and Avatars bring with them to this world. The common man does not know how such happenings are performed, and calls them "miracles" which actually shows his ignorance of the real facts. In the "Pantanjali Suter" of Maharishi Patanjali, in the third stanza, verses 5-51, it is written that creating worldly things like curing the sick, making barren women fertile, producing precious gems, etc. are called ridhi, sidhi and performing these things be set the way of perfection; it is no proof of perfection. For he who goes into samadhis such things are like plucked flowers scattered before and behind him on his path – a true pilgrimin search of God will never stoop to pick them up. So-called miracles are merely a child's play which can be done by focusing the mind to a single point.
All perfect Masters are in control of these powers, but do not work through them. In Peshawar, some years ago, a hypnotist came to the Edward Mission College and to show what he could do. Using the attention to manipulate the laws for outer purposes, hypnotized a boy and then asked anyoneto question the boy in any language the ychose. The boy answered all questions accurately, even replying to the questions of a professor of Latin. When Madame Blavatsky visited Lahore, she was having a discussion with a number of people when a certain professor exclaimed, "Madame, all that you are saying is a rigmarole and as impossible as flowers falling from the ceiling." Madame Blavatsky replied, "Professor, do you think that is really impossible?" At once, a shower of blossoms fell from the ceiling and covered the table. Madame Blavatsky turned to the professor and said, "These things are according to the laws of nature, but we are not acquainted with them."Maulana Rumi was a teacher, and he first met his Master Shamas Tabrez when he was giving a lesson to a number of children. Hazrat Shamas Tabrez approached and asked, "What is this?" Maulana Rumi replied, "This is that knowledge of which you know nothing." Shamas Tabrez kept quiet, but when the boys left for the break period he took all the books and slates and threw them into a nearby pond. When Maulana Rumi returned with the boys they demanded to know where their books were. Shamas Tabrez took them to the pond, and one by one took out the books – but astonishingly, they were all dry! Maulana Rumi, his eyes wide open with surprise, said, "What is this?" Shamas Tabrez replied, "This is that knowledge of which you know nothing." As is well known, Maulana Rumi later became the disciple of Shamas Tabrez and eventually succeeded him in Mastership.
What I want to impress about this subject is that miraculous happenings are merely the fruit of concentrated attention, and that true Masters do not give them any importance because they have gone far past this stage. HafizS ahib says, "Do not mention miracles to me, because I have crossed that stage, and I am where such things are not necessary."
Perfect Masters never work through these lower powers, and they forbid true seekers from doing so because they are an obstruction on the path to God. However, through meditation the student will automatically acquire them,but they are forbidden to be used. Even though the Masters use them at times for certain purposes, they will tell you that the greatest "miracle" is when they raise the soul above the mind and the senses, there by severing the knot which binds it to the wheel of births and deaths. The progress which the Mahatma sused to achieve in thousands of years, by the grace of Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj, is today achieved in months. Great Masters have the most miraculous power of making the Holy Naam manifest in others what more miracle than this is to be desired?