There are innumerable ways to express bhakti and devotion for ones Guru. Some of us do it by offering a flower, a card or a material gift chosen with love, care and humility. Several amongst us sometimes do it through oral expressions either in the form of spoken words or through songs that try and convey surrender, love and gratitude. Some bhaktas simply convey these same feelings through gestures such as a blissful smile or gaze, or through a padanamaskar or even a hug. And then some offer sewa or service in myriad forms such as by cooking food, keeping the Guru’s ashram or abode clean, or by helping in the daily chores of upkeep. The list is truly endless. Often disciples express devotion by adhering in their daily lives to the precepts and examples set by the Guru. In the same vein, some disciples express devotion by sharing their experiences-through a narration in the form of a published book of their personal and exalted experiences of the Guru’s grace. While a disciple is free to follow any or all of the above ways, but I have a special attachment for and belief in the written word and I am convinced that such an effort has a very special role to play.
This is because the written word transcends both time and space. It becomes a kind of a permanent record of the ways and means of the Guru. Moreover it is durable and can easily be disseminated. It can therefore not only be shared with a larger number of people but a book allows one to read – reread, comprehend and reflect. The latter is what gives power to the written over the spoken word. I am tempted to say that when it is written on the Guru, for ones Guru, the book acquires very special power. The reason for this is that it is written with a pure heart and a selfless purpose of expressing love to the Guru. Academic claim, popularity through media and financial gains through the number of copies sold are just not within the domain of a book on a Guru. This is because even if the book becomes famous, it is the Guru and not the author that gets the fame and name. That is the way it is and that is why and how it remains an expression of love to the Guru.
There are countless books on Gurus in the market. As many are the Gurus that many are the books. There are two reasons why I believe Treasure Divine is special and different. First it is written by devotees, who have recorded in spontaneous manner their personal inner feelings and convictions without external influence or impulse. Thus this collection carries a ring of innocence and freshness of a rare nature. Secondly and more importantly a careful read of the collection unveils a fascinating insight into the spiritual powers of the Guru and why the devotees have chosen to title their Guru-Swami Ajay Jain-as Treasure Divine.
At first a brief about the 26 devotees is important, this because unlike all other books, this one carries no biographical note on the contributors. This is an interesting deviation, and seems to stem from the realised fact that all the devotees are in a posture of surrender and therefore have not given importance to their self, profession or address. However what can be gleaned from their writing is that the group of 26 is highly heterogeneous in age, profile of work, socio-economic background and in the number of years they have known their Guru. The youngest among them is 18 (though there is a reference to an incident where a devotee is 7 years old!) and the oldest is around 80 years of age. This is evident from the fact that there are those who are young and trying to build their life and ones who are senior or retired and trying to make ‘out’ their lived life.
These 26 devotees are from the all segments of society and that includes the government, the non-government sector and the private sectors and they range from students, entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, businessmen, a housewife, a vice president of a global bank to budding biotechnologists, scientists and even Bollywood aspirants. These 26 hail from different parts of the world and all are recipients of His compassion. While several reside in Delhi others come from cities like Hyderabad and Jaipur. Some have known their Guru for over 25 years there are also a few who have less than 25 months on their side. Within this range of diversity what do these young and old, women and men, recent and long time devotees share and reveal about their Guru and His ways of working their life?
The renderings of devotion and blissful gratitude vary from description of the Gurus charming smile, to His radiant glow and the small delicate feet very smooth like that of a baby which seem to impress most. The fact that the Guru was afflicted with polio at the age of 5 years and meets the devotees in a lying nearly supine and propped on one elbow seems to each of the 26 a perfect picture of the Divine to behold.
The physical description of the Guru can be also be affirmed through the photographs that are to be found in the book. Spanning across the different age of the Guru what makes them special is that each has come from the small shrine the devotee maintains in his own home. So each photograph is special to each devotee in its own way and this is what gives them a place in this collection. Most devotees share that their morning begins by lighting a small lamp or touching the feet or looking at the photograph of their Guru.
The abode: the devotees describe the room of their Guru as a small, neatly kept place in a nondescript part of Delhi. It is a very quiet space marked by the complete absence of any chanting or the presence of dhoop-battis, idols or photographs. Similarly there are no spaces for flowers or fruits. Their Guru wears no beads, rings or saffron robes. A quiet air conditioner, a delicious masala chai and the best of steamed rice dhokla and small laddu or burfee is the standard parshad served to one and all alike. No devotee has to make or serve the tea as the Guru has a loyal employed staff to do these nitty-gritty’s.
There are no fees charged. There is no place to slip a daan or make an offering. Gifts are not accepted and if once in a while they ever are taken that too is a way to cut away a strong Karmic deed of the devotee. For the Guru has simple material needs and with his own-albeit modest- resources takes care of the needs.
At the outset what is striking is the amazing liberalism of the Guru. This is evident from the fact that devotees address Him in a variety of ways: Guruji, Swamiji, Prabhuji, Babaji, Gurudev, Mahaguru, Bhagwan; there obviously is no attempt to make a cult or force a specific way. Though a common denominator is Swamiji yet each devotee can have his or her own way. A fact which strikes one is the form of interaction: very personal, very intimate and very confidant. Each devotee has a direct and personal communication with their Guru the mode could be telephone or a one to one meeting sought through a prior appointment.
The relationship of the Guru to the devotees takes different forms and these could take the form of father, mother, friend, brother and guide. Some call Him a North-Star others say He is a lighthouse and a few devotees are so overwhelmed that they share candidly that He is everything for them. While these descriptions could be varied forms of expressing their relationship with and the roles He plays in the life of the devotees what is striking is the common use of words like : antaryami (knower of all inside and outside), kalpavriksha ( a wish fulfilling tree) and one devotee states He is more than what He appears. This is confirmed in other ways for devotees affirm that their Guru has magical powers, supreme cosmic energy and Godly powers. Moreover one and all call what He does for them as an ajooba, charisma, unimaginable, a wonder, a phenomena, a miracle.
The role the Guru plays in the life of the devotees is obviously significant and filled with deep meaning and purpose. Moreover it is not confined to one odd event, incidence or happening. The devotees state that they could write reams of paper on this; some even state there are countless mesmerising experiences,others recount that the miracles are hard to enumerate given their large number accumulated over a period of 25 years.
The strength of the writings shared by the devotees is that they do not pen these phrases as mere opinions or judgements, rather they share these in the spirit of scientific analysis with their conclusions on His divinity. Reading through these shared expressions reveals that the Gurus role in the life of these devotees spans a diverse range of issues and concerns. They cover virtually every facet and phase of life.
Problems related to children, parents, friends, colleagues and family have been shared. Such is the latitude of the Guru that issues of health, professional promotion, purchase of property, financial losses and legal entanglements are also mentioned. Cases of not being able to conceive a child and vexing situations at the job front are also elaborated.
Finding the appropriate person to marry to searching for the best university to pursue a particular branch of study is also narrated. But physical and material world is not the realm of transformation and improvement and most devotees mention that they began to walk the spiritual path or the religious way more clearly and confidently.
Each persons life situation is so different, so personal, so specific in its have and have-nots, yet what comes out clear in this collection is that the Guru works, with, within and for each of His devotees with complete devoted care. The role of the Guru is pinpointed and acknowledged with deep gratitude by one and all.