An interview with Pranam Bai in Malibu, California.
Reprinted from Divine Times
I don't know why, but whenever I give satsang I seldom remember any stories about Guru Maharaj Ji. I guess it's because I see Maharaj Ji so much that I've trained my mind not to get into what he's doing. I don't try to get into, "Oh look, Maharaj Ji's doing this, and then he's doing this, and then he's doing this! And wait until I can tell this in a story."
Without a doubt, the most significant experiences for me are in the darshan line. To me, that's darshan because that's at the moment when everything is exposed, everything is open. Guru Maharaj Ji is my Lord, I'm his devotee, and to me that's darshan. Because I have interaction with him through my service where he's maybe saying things to me like, "Go do this for me," or "Buy this for me," or something like that; but in the darshan line is the moment when it's really, "Okay, Maharaj Ji, here we are, this is the moment." To me, that's really the time when he's set it up for every devotee to have darshan.
Guru Maharaj Ji is teaching me every day. There are two things that I feel Maharaj Ji's always teaching me. The most important thing is to trust him, and the second one is to be conscious all the time. Through his actions he shows me all the time to be aware, to be awake; to just be conscious all the time. He points out everything; every little imperfection he'll point out. Because he's our Guru Maharaj Ji.
Maharaj Ji's given me so much. And I know that, but in a sense he hasn't blessed me more than he's blessed anyone. Yet he's given me what every premie thinks he would like to have. First of all, he gave me a name that he calls me. He doesn't call me Kathy, he calls me Pranam Bai. Then, he lets me live in his house and take care of his children, and be close with his family, buy things for him, and do things for him; just know him personally, just be around him. I could never express, there's just no way the mind could ever express the kind of gratitude I feel towards Guru Maharaj Ji, or how I feel overcome by what he's given to me.
How I came to be at the residence, I think, is a really good story because I feel that there's a really profound lesson for everybody in it. So many premies want darshan so badly. We want to be close to Maharaj Ji. People just want Maharaj Ji to know their names, to know them. Sometimes it's just so hard to realise that Maharaj Ji knows everything.
I got Knowledge and moved in the ashram a week later. My feelings towards him were so intense right from the start. Whenever I would think about him I'd get upset because I couldn't deal with the strong feelings I had towards him. In India in '72, I became completely obsessed with wanting to know Maharaj Ji, because I saw these people around him and I didn't understand why they were there and why I was where I was. I just really wanted to know him. I was just really into that for a long time.
It wasn't that I wanted to live in the residence. I didn't care anything about that. As a matter of fact, I always thought, "Well, I don't have the vibe. I'm not one of the 'beautiful people' type premies." But I really wanted to know Maharaj Ji. I just felt that somehow. I didn't have to try to go to the residence, I didn't have to try to get darshan, that someday, if I just did service, satsang, meditation, that Maharaj Ji would come for me. It was just between me and him. I didn't know how it would ever happen.
Gradually I sort of knew enough to stop thinking so much about Maharaj Ji. Then in 1975 they came up with this mahatma program. I filled out an application and turned it in. From the time I filled it out, there was no doubt in my mind that Maharaj Ji was going to approve it. I really wanted to live my whole life that way and to experience Maharaj Ji's Grace.
But mainly I thought that this was the. best way to get close to Maharaj Ji. He would know my name. I would always have his agya. I would get to sit close at programs. Things like that. So, he approved it and made me an O.T., and that was fine. Even then I had never had a conversation with him, though there were a lot of little times when he would give me his darshan that he would show me that he knew who I was in some ways.
Then one day someone said, "Guru Maharaj Ji wants to speak with you today." I had no idea what Maharaj Ji wanted to talk to me about. The main thing I was so excited about was that I was going to kiss Maharaj Ji's feet. I didn't even care that he was going to talk to me. I just really loved kissing Maharaj Ji's feet so much. I used to have a lot of darshan dreams where I would always say, "Pranam Guru Maharaj Ji, pranam Guru Maharaj Ji, pranam Guru Maharaj Ji," over and over. I was completely into that, just kissing Guru Maharaj Ji's feet. I just love that experience more than anything.
I went in his office and Maharaj Ji was there with Durga Ji and Premlata. I kissed Maharaj Ji's Feet, and I was sitting there, and Maharaj Ji asked me to take care of the Malibu residence, That day I went home with them, and I've been there ever since.
The whole lesson of it for me was that I knew that my connection with Maharaj Ji was inside. I didn't have to
do anything to try to get closer with him physically, except just obey his agya, to surrender to whatever situation I was in, even if it seemed like it was taking me further away from Maharaj Ji.
Now, like Durga Ji talks about in her satsang, when you see Maharaj Ji a lot, you just have to go away for a day or something and just realise that, "Wow, Guru Maharaj Ji is all-powerful. He can do everything." He's shown me so many times, in so many ways. I could just tell so many stories about that. Maharaj Ji has shown me again and again that he knows, that he is perfect. In one way it's hard to live with that, because you know he knows how crazy you are. On the other hand it's so beautiful, because you learn to trust him. He'll put you in a situation where you have to trust him more, and trust him more, and trust him more.
For the first year I was here I always wanted Maharaj Ji to say "You're doing a good job," or "You're doing a bad job," or just tell me how I was doing. He never said anything. Then finally I realised why he didn't do that for me. Why he wouldn't so-called "communicate" with me about my service. He wasn't giving me what I thought I wanted. He was giving me what I really wanted, and that was just that he wasn't feeding my ego at all. He wasn't feeding me anything that was unreal, and he was forcing me to get my direction, to get my communication with him, from inside.
Then I realised, "Oh, Maharaj Ji, I don't ever want you to say anything to me. I just want you to teach me to trust you more." He points out my mistakes. But he never says anything if you do something good. Very seldom. Maharaj Ji will give you everything you want, but he won't give you anything that is bad for your spiritual growth, or is potentially bad for you.
I just feel that in living with Maharaj Ji everything is so magnified. Everything that we do, all of our actions, are just completely a manifestation of our consciousness. When I clean Maharaj Ji's room, or buy something - in everything I do in my service - I have to manifest everything I understand about who Guru Maharaj Ji is. If I do any less than that, then I'm not understanding. Maharaj Ji inside and outside is perfect and everything around him should be that way. And even then it's not enough. But if I don't do that, then somehow I'm shortchanging the experience that Maharaj Ji's given me.
My connection with Maharaj Ji has always been in service. My whole life is serving Maharaj Ji. Morning until night, that comes first. When I have a chance to go to satsang, I go to satsang, and I meditate at night and in the morning. But what comes first is serving Maharaj Ji. I feel that is the purpose of my life. The reason I want to realise Knowledge is so I can serve Maharaj Ji better. I don't care anything about realising Knowledge for "me". I'm not doing service, satsang, meditation so I can realise Knowledge.
I'm doing satsang and meditation so it can help me serve Guru Maharaj Ji.
That's where I'm at in my life, because as far as the experience of Knowledge goes, without Guru Maharaj Ji it doesn't mean anything to me anyway. If I was doing it for myself alone, I probably wouldn't do it, but Maharaj Ji gives me a reason to even try to have the experience. The more love I experience, the more love I can put into serving him. So I just can't get up in front of everyone and say, "I've just been doing service, satsang, and meditation, and it's so beautiful." The only thing I can say is that I've been experiencing Guru Maharaj Ji's Grace so much and it's so beautiful, because he has the power to give me the experience if I trust him enough.
Sometimes I think, "Oh, I just want to rest. I just want to meditate more." But then I realise that I don't need to rest, I just need to trust him more. He's taking me beyond myself more and more. If I let go completely, I could be in his Grace completely, and trust the way he's taking me along this path and not have any concepts about it.
Mainly, Maharaj Ji gives me so many experiences of how, by his Grace, anything's possible in my service for him. There are so many examples of things that happen which would seem completely impossible to do, but because it's for Guru Maharaj Ji, it happens, by the Grace, I just see that if I surrender, if I say, "I'll try," then his Grace makes everything possible for whatever he wants to do. It's just unbelievable.
This is a really small example, but one time we got this kitten for Premlata's birthday. Maharaj Ji wanted to get her a white kitten. I had assumed that somebody was taking care of it because nobody had said anything. So then, a day before her birthday, Durga Ji said, "We've got to find a kitten." So I started to call these pet shops, and it just so happened that nobody had any kittens because cats don't even have kittens until May and this was only March. I called every pet store in L.A. and nobody had any kittens. The youngest cat we could find was five months old.
I was on the floor of Maharaj Ji's office making all these calls. So, finally I called these veterinarians, and this one vet gave me the number of this one lady who bred Siamese cats. It just happened that she had this one eight-week old white Siamese cat. Just at the moment I was talking to her, Maharaj Ji came walking into the room, and I was so into what I was doing that I burst out, "I found one!" and he just smiled. We found the only white kitten in Southern California, and I just felt that it was his Grace making it possible. Showing me that if we would just keep trying and not give up, we could get anything or do anything Guru Maharaj Ji wants.
I feel like that's always what's happening. Maharaj Ji will give me something that's just a little bit beyond my reach. If I said, "No, I can't do that," - if I listened to logic I would say, "I can't do that." Everyone would say, "That's O.K.," and nobody would ever think twice. Maharaj Ji would say, "It's O.K." But instead, I always try to say, "We can do it. By Maharaj Ji's Grace, anything's possible." And it always is. In my life, that is what he is teaching me all the time. He gives me something to do so that I can surrender; then in surrender I can do more than I thought.
One time Maharaj Ji told me this story about this premie in Indian scriptures or something who did the same service in Guru Maharaj Ji's kitchen for 37 years. He just did the same thing every day - carrying wood. One day he put down what he was doing and noticed that his hair had turned grey. He didn't realise that all the time had passed because he had just done the same service without stopping.
Because Guru Maharaj Ji told the story twice while I was there, I really took it to heart. I felt as though that was a point to which he really wanted me to come. To just do my service with no thought of, "When is this going to be over?" or, "Am I ever going to do anything else?" Because that's what would happen when mind would come in.
Then Maharaj Ji was talking about what it's like to be at the residence: that the two energies, the energy of the Knowledge and the energy of the mind, are so intense because the vibration is so pure. So the mind just becomes that much more intense. He said a person can become like a battlefield. Then he looked at me and said, "So, if your mind's troubling you, it's just because the energy of the Knowledge is so strong that the mind does everything it can."
Some premies who come and go from time to time at the residence say that it can be a very crazy place. Not because of Maharaj Ji, but just because of what happens around here. The mind just kind of comes out to resist Guru Maharaj Ji's presence or something. I don't know what it is, but it's such a beautiful opportunity, because it can give you such an opportunity to surrender.
We have to understand the service that he's given us to do and just do that. I feel like that's our connection to him. Each person is individual, and he's said it so many times. But for me, Maharaj Ji has always set up these canals - practical things like the ashram, or service, or whatever - and then I just swim down those things to him. That's my way, that's my connection with him: in what I have to do for him. That's why I think service is, for me, the most important thing.
Actually, there was a time that I came to doubt that. I was comparing my experience or my relationship with Guru Maharaj Ji to other premies. My mind would tell me, "Maharaj Ji loves this premie more than he loves you. This person is so much more pure. Maharaj Ji talks to him so casually and so nice." All these crazy things were happening in my mind. And then Maharaj Ji went on this camping trip, and I didn't go. For some reason I just felt bad because I couldn't go. My mind told me, "Maharaj Ji doesn't like you as much as these other premies." I mean, it was completely crazy. More than I can ever remember. I just got really freaked out.
The day they were leaving I went to Maharaj Ji. I had been crying and crying, and I felt so much pain. I was really in my mind. I said, "I hope you have a nice time."
He said, "What's the matter, Pranam Bai? You look a little out-of-whack."
I said, "I was just feeling bad 'cause I couldn't go."
And he said, "You'll get to go other times; besides, your service comes first. So, you've got to stay here."
I said, "I understand."
He looked at me and said, "You're crazy."
It was so true at that point, at that moment. I was completely crazy. I had forgotten what I understood before. That really, my service is the most precious thing, and that came first. I had gotten into this consciousness of it being more important to be with Guru Maharaj Ji than it is to be in his service. I felt he was really teaching me. Then he even said it to put it back into me: "Your service comes first."
Maybe it's not true for other people. You just can never think about that. The only time I really got in trouble with my mind was when I started thinking that other people were closer; when I started comparing their relationship with Maharaj Ji to mine, instead of just cherishing what I have with Maharaj Ji, that he had given me service; that I had a beautiful service I could give myself to, and that was the way I could give him my love.
I feel that Guru Maharaj Ji deals with each one of us so individually, so lovingly, so perfectly, and that the most important thing is just to be tied to him. To become his. I feel that, by his Grace, for as long as he will allow. I am Guru Maharaj Ji's. He gives us these opportunities, whether it's some service, or the ashram, or to be an initiator, or whatever, to just tie ourselves to him practically. I need to feel tied to Guru Maharaj Ji in whatever way he provides; I think we all need to feel that.