With the Three Masters: Translated from Ruhani Diary (A Spiritual Diary)
By Rai Sahib Munshi Ram, Secretary to the Three Masters
Publisher: Radha Soami Satsang Beas: Beas, India, 5th edition, 2018
Rai Sahib Munshi Ram served as the personal secretary to three masters: Maharaj Sawan Singh, Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh and Maharaj Charan Singh. For most of that time he kept a personal diary recording in intimate detail the daily lives of these masters from his unique standpoint as personal secretary. Spanning fourteen years, 1942 to 1956, the diary covers the expansion of Dera, the Partition of India, the death of the Great Master, the three-year mastership of Sardar Bahadur Ji, and the succession and early years of Maharaj Charan Singh Ji’s term as master. First published in Hindi as the three-volume Ruhani Diary, the English-speaking audience knew of this work through selections translated and published as With the Three Masters. With this new fifth edition, of With the Three Masters RSSB offers for the first time a complete translation of Ruhani Diary.
This diary affords a rare glimpse into the way the masters fulfill their worldly as well as spiritual responsibilities, setting the example of a balanced human life. Many entries in the diary describe Maharaj Sawan Singh (affectionately known as the Great Master) spending long hours in the heat and dust attending to the work of the family farm in Sirsa. In this way, he fulfilled his duties to his family as a householder, ensuring a source of income by which he and his descendants could not only sustain themselves but give generously to the sangat:
We hear that some ignorant people, including a few satsangis, complain about a great saint like Hazur being involved with his children’s worldly affairs like an ordinary householder…. He said: I do not want my children to become a burden on society or the sangat. I do not want them to lose spiritual grace and depend on satsang funds. That is why I have encouraged them to take up farming.
The balanced life is essential to following the spiritual path. The author summarizes Maharaj Charan Singh’s response to the many letters from disciples saying they wanted to leave their jobs and homes and settle at Dera:
Hazur always tells them that this is the path of sahaj yoga, on which progress is slow. This slow and steady method of separating the soul from the body by meditation is the only one that bears fruit. We should not rush in this or give up in despair. Those who leave their homes for this path run the risk of becoming disillusioned faster and quitting…. In renunciation, you feel failures much more and become easily frustrated.
Each of these masters devoted time almost daily to attending to correspondence from their disciples around the globe. Sometimes, when a disciple’s letter was found to be particularly interesting – especially if the disciple describes some inner experience – the author copied the full text of it into the diary. Often he writes a paraphrase of the master’s response or a synopsis of discussion he had with the master about the letter. For example, he writes about Maharaj Sawan Singh:
After I had read the letter to him, Hazur said that only those who work hard get results. We are unaware that we carry the burden of millions of lifetimes of karmas on our heads. The inner Master will become manifest only after these karmas are washed away. When you sit in meditation, the inner Master sees that there is a soul anxiously waiting for him.
In addition to attending to correspondence, many days were spent receiving visits from satsangis and seekers who brought him their questions and troubles. Reading the diary, we are privileged to hear the master’s answers. Thus, again from the time of Maharaj Sawan Singh:
Regarding a European lady that Hazur initiated: The lady told Hazur that she wakes up depressed in the mornings. I suggested that it could be due to weakness or illness. But Hazur said that the moment people wake up, they get absorbed in thoughts of persons and things they love. Since she had no such worldly attachments, she felt a void that made her feel low and unhappy. When she begins to develop love for the Shabd and the Master through her meditation, this feeling will disappear.
When a visitor complained, “Why is it that good, God-fearing people suffer in life and often die a painful death, whereas wicked, sinful people meet a quick death and do not suffer much?” Great Master replied, “This is how it should be.” He went on:
God is especially merciful to good people and cleans their karmas through sickness and so on, so that they do not have to undergo punishment in hell or in future lives. Maulana Rum says: “You who complain to God about your suffering should look instead at his kindness. Either you should cease asking for his grace or quit complaining about your suffering.”
The masters also frequently traveled to visit sangats large and small to give satsang. The diary records the grueling schedule of travel on dusty roads, stopping to give darshan to groups of satsangis who gathered at various spots along the road, or to give an impromptu satsang, or to visit a sick or dying satsangi in some village – and not infrequently to deal with a broken-down car. Reading the diary, one cannot escape the overwhelming fact of how hard the masters work on behalf of their disciples. As the author points out many times, the masters seemed to have an otherworldly capacity for hard work, often with no break and very little food or rest.
Whenever we ask Hazur [Maharaj Sawan Singh] to rest, he says that this body will perish one day, let it be put to good use. He is not at all bothered about his walks, meals or personal needs. Quietly, he keeps serving others and never complains or talks about the discomfort, lack of sleep and constant travel he has to undergo. No ordinary man can undertake such work.
Holding satsang is the masters’ seva, and no inconvenience would stop them from performing it. Whether at Dera or in some remote village or even by the side of the road, the masters gave satsang. In the diary, the author often gives a short paraphrase of the main points that the master stressed in a satsang. For example, his brief synopsis of a satsang by Sardar Bahadur was:
First, work hard. When the mind gets tired of working hard without achieving any results, intense longing for the Lord is awakened. Without intense longing, love for the Lord does not arise. Love is essential if we are to meet the Lord; love is born out of intense longing, which in turn is a result of hard work.
Throughout the three volumes, one is struck again and again by the humility of the masters. They did not want praise through devotional songs or poetry, nor did they want people to bow before them or make a show of their devotion. The author describes an incident with the Great Master:
He told them that he had been a government servant all his life and was not a mahatma, faqir or saint; he was just like them – a sinful soul of God. “The same God is within me that is within you,” he said. “There is no difference between us.
The humility of the masters is nowhere more evident than in the challenging times of transition from one master to his successor. The diary details the last days and death of Great Master and the beginning of Sardar Bahadur’s mastership. Three years later Sardar Bahadur’s death and the transfer of the mastership to Maharaj Charan Singh is rendered similarly in detail. The author includes the words of Maharaj Charan Singh’s speech at the time of accepting the duty Sardar Bahadur had laid upon him:
We must not lose courage at this trying time. Instead, calmly and with determination, we should follow the path of joining the soul with the Sound Current taught to us by Hazur Maharaj Ji and Sardar Bahadur Ji. Hazur Maharaj Ji used to say that he was always with everyone. This assurance was for all of us and not for me alone.
All in all, Rai Sahib Munshi Ram’s work is rightly titled Ruhani Diary – that is, “spiritual diary.” A personal diary, clearly not written with publication in mind, it tells us many mundane details of his daily life as secretary serving three great masters. But woven in among these seemingly meaningless details – and often taking one by surprise – one finds innumerable brilliant gems of spiritual wisdom.