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The Master’s Purse

Jesus of Nazareth was once walking through a town accompanied by his disciples. When people started heckling him with unkind words, he responded by praying for their happiness and well-being. Having observed this, one of his disciples asked him, “Master, why are you praying for these people? Are you not offended by their words?” And to this Jesus replied, “I can only spend from what I have in my purse.”1

True mystics are the perfume of God on earth. They are the fragrance of genuine humility and loving compassion, coming amongst us to wake us up from the dream of physical existence to realize the Truth. To be in the presence of a true Master is to know peace and to see love in action.

However, sometimes the teachings of these loving messengers of truth are either misunderstood or misinterpreted and considered to be a threat. This has happened several times throughout history. Jesus Christ, Hazrat Mansur, Sarmad, Guru Arjan Dev, and Guru Tegh Bahadur were all persecuted by those who feared their message. Looking back, it is difficult to understand why anyone would hurt such compassionate and humane beings whose only purpose on earth is to redeem helpless souls and bring light and love into the world.

Having superior intelligence and the exclusive capacity to discriminate, one would think human beings would have learned from past mistakes. But centuries later, little has changed. Critics still slander, judge and condemn while the mystics, true to their nature, still respond with the same loving kindness.

A well-known story is told of a Zen Master who saw a scorpion drowning in a lake. As the Master reached out to try and save it, the scorpion stung the Master and fell back into the water. The Master tried a second time to save the scorpion, but again it stung him. A disciple who was observing the whole scene asked the Master, “Why are you bothering to save the creature when you know it will sting you?” The Master replied, it is in the nature of the scorpion to sting, and it is in my nature to help. Then, taking a leaf, the Master lifted the scorpion out of the water and saved its life.2

So how do the Sant Mat Masters respond to their critics? What are the contents of their purse?

For years, critics would say, “Why does a spiritual organization need to purchase so much land? Why is there such an ambition to ‘grow’ RSSB? Why not focus on the original purpose of the path?”

During the mastership of Hazur Maharaj Ji, when satsangs were held all over India, the sangat was relatively small. The number of people who came to satsang ranged from 15,000 – 100,000. So in those days, RSSB would rent venues to hold satsangs.

Over the last 25 years, as the sangat was growing, RSSB started building its own properties, setting up facilities that could cater to large-scale crowds. Using the headquarters at Dera Beas as a reference, every center would have the same standardized model which consisted of large sheds that could be used for sangat accommodation at night and then as a satsang venue in the morning; kitchen facilities equipped to cook large quantities of food, ample toilet and bath facilities, extensive onsite parking facilities and first aid services. Special care was taken for all these provisions to be situated within the boundaries of the Society’s own gated property, so as not to cause any disturbance to other occupants in the vicinity.

As and when these properties started taking shape, the Society received many generous offers to rent their premises out for public events and local fairs, etc. But RSSB rejected these proposals keeping their objective in view: to provide convenient access for the sangat to attend satsang – the starting point of the spiritual quest – with a secondary purpose to provide potential support for disaster relief.

One might ask, developing such huge infrastructures requires administration and management – where does RSSB get the hundreds and thousands of sevadars who serve the Master’s sangat with discipline and dedication?

Sevadars are the Master’s spiritual children who have been attending the training school of selfless service for years. Seva or selfless service is a platform that allows every disciple to practice being a good human being. It is an exercise that helps clean the vessel of the mind. Outer seva cultivates humility in the heart of the disciple, which in turn facilitates the inner practice and the real seva – meditation. As the Sufi mystic Hakim Sana’i wrote: “The road your self must journey on lies in polishing the mirror of your heart.”3

The happiness and internal satisfaction that one gets from giving oneself without expectation of praise or reward, cannot be compared to anything else in the world. No amount of money can buy this feeling that arises from every individual’s own personal experience. And it is this feeling that keeps every sevadar coming back for more.

Today, the sangat attendance during the Master’s designated satsang programs all across India ranges anywhere from 40,000 in Hyderabad and Jamshedpur to 400,000 in Indore. And all the centers are well within their capacity of accommodating their visiting sangat and providing them with the comfort and convenience of all the basic needs, which allows them to focus on their spiritual needs.

And with such infrastructures set up all across the country, tremendous support was available to the local governments and to the flood of struggling humanity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

About 250 of RSSB’s centers all across the country were converted into shelters and isolation facilities where stranded migrant workers were warmly welcomed and cared for by loving sevadars, like valued guests in their own home.

Extensive arrangements were also made by RSSB to prepare food for anyone hungry and needy. The Society provided the ingredients, prepared and provided the food, and distribution was arranged through local administrations. So far, more than 24 million food packets have been dispensed over a 30-day period, across 19 states throughout the country. And more than 22,000 sevadars volunteer daily to accomplish this gigantic effort.

No one, even within the RSSB management, could see the big picture. This was the vision of the RSSB Masters; for every state to have a shelter that could service both the needs of the spirit and the body, as and when required, to benefit all the children of the Supreme Father, regardless of status, community, or background. Today, we see the fruit of their foresight which has taken decades to develop. As Baba Ji said in a television interview with Prime Minister Modi, “In future also, whatever we have belongs to the sangat and for the sangat our doors shall always remain open.”

Although the primary duty of a true Master is to connect souls to the Shabd and then take them out of this world back to their original home, they also have another purpose. As we read in The Path of the Masters, the Masters’ mission is …

... to bring light and love into the world, so that all men, not simply his disciples alone, but the whole world may profit. This is a part of his secret work. No one can follow him into the chambers of his retreat and see all the great work that he is doing. While his specific work is for his disciples, he works also for all mankind. There is not a living being in all the world who does not receive benefit from the Master.4

The Great Master once said that a true human being has a feeling of sympathy and a loving heart for mankind.5 True Masters epitomize the best of all human qualities. They are the light of the world and although they use language to communicate their teachings, it is their actions that speak. It is their actions that offer us a peek at the contents of their purse – superhuman love and compassion. The 19th-century Tibetan Buddhist master Patrul Rinpoche, said this about the Master:

Like a navigator, he unfailingly charts out for us the route to liberation and omniscience. Like a downpour of nectar, he extinguishes the blaze of negative actions and emotions. Like the sun and the moon, he radiates the light of Dharma and disperses the thick darkness of ignorance. Like the earth, he patiently bears all ingratitude and discouragement, and encompasses in the breadth of his mind the vastness of view and action. Like the wish-granting tree, he is the source of all help in this life and all happiness in the next.6

  1. An Answer of Jesus, paraphrased in The Way of the Sufi, Idries Shah p. 69
  2. Zen 2.0 Eastern Solutions for the Western World, Javier Guillem (paraphrased)
  3. The Walled Garden of Truth: The Hadiqa; tr. David L. Pendlebury. Quoted in The Spiritual Guide, Volume 2, p.209
  4. The Path of the Masters, Julian Johnson, p. 207
  5. Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. 2, page 119
  6. The Words of My Perfect Teacher, by Kunzang Lama’i Shelung; tr.by Padmakara Translation Group, ed. Kerry Brown and Sima Sharma. Quoted in The Spiritual Guide, Volume 2, p.67