One Fold, One Shepherd
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.1
In Light on Saint John, Hazur Maharaj Ji beautifully explains the close relationship between the predecessor and his successor. The present Beas Master, Baba Ji, also always points to his Master, Maharaj Charan Singh Ji, when his disciples try to give him credit or show their gratitude for having been initiated or been given seva. As Hazur’s successor, he wholly lives up to the teachings as given and commented on by Hazur, who paraphrased the verse from the Bible as quoted above:
What Christ is saying here is that I am responsible for the initiates of my predecessors – those initiates of theirs who are still in this world and whom I can contact in the flesh. I also bring them into the fold so that they may know me and hear my voice. I will take them under my protection and help them also, and then there shall be one fold and one shepherd.2
The first Master in this Beas line of Masters was Baba Jaimal Singh, who was appointed by Soami Ji Maharaj of Agra to start initiating in Punjab in 1891. In 1903, when Baba Jaimal Singh passed away, the torch of mastership was passed to Maharaj Sawan Singh Ji, known as the Great Master. Maharaj Sawan Singh passed away in 1948 and some of his disciples are still alive. “There is really no difference between the predecessor and his successor,” says Hazur. The real Master is the Shabd or inner Master. The real disciple is the soul, which in essence is the Shabd. So the disciples, too, merge into the Shabd, their Master.
The parable of the sheep and their shepherd contains so much beauty, truth, and comfort. First of all, the Master loves all his disciples equally. There is a silent recognition and joy in realizing the relationship of one’s Master with the successor. Apart from knowing him, there is also hearing his voice – literally – but also at a deeper level, listening to his teachings, getting a better understanding of them, and finally loving them. The depth of the teachings is being absorbed more and more, and one starts living them. The meditative process becomes so much part and parcel of one’s being that any reminder of the Master’s teachings generates a feeling of joy.
The guiding hand of one’s Master is always there; we experience it as the subtle inner guidance we might suddenly become aware of, or when we read or listen to the teachings of his successor. Master’s guiding hand is also a protecting hand. How often does he change a dagger thrust into a pinprick! Living with Master’s presence is truly leading a blessed life. Being part of his sangat and living within its parameters is seeking the protection and refuge of his flock. You won’t and can’t stray too far away from it. You will always hear his “whistle” and come back to that “one fold and one shepherd.”
‘Hearing his whistle’ could be interpreted and experienced in many different ways. It could be a huge wake-up call, like Huzur’s passing away in 1990. His being with us was so much taken for granted, that a knock on the head was needed to realize that everything on this earthly plane is temporary. Meeting and seeing the Master on one of his foreign tours or during a Dera stay can have the same effect, a renewed longing to follow the path. There are so many inspiring books, publications, videos, and magazines, the RSSB website, and not to forget the wonderful Q&A sessions with Baba Ji on YouTube these days – all to remind us of our real mission in life.
Our beloved shepherd’s calling can also be very subtle and intimate. He wants to take us to the next stage or level in our meditation, in order for us to get a deeper understanding and appreciation of doing his work, Master’s work. “Walk with me and work with me,” the present Master will tell us time and again. The reward we’re getting, the wages we’re receiving, are so much more than we deserve. By our own efforts we wouldn’t get anywhere, but what urges us onward is an increasing intensity of love, the reward and wages of our brave but inadequate efforts.
We needn’t have any illusions about our state of being, for so little is needed for us to get distracted, to stray away from the path. We’re all lost sheep, so easily forgetting or neglecting Master’s teachings. We have to be reminded over and over again of our true goal in life. The Master’s infinite love expressed by Huzur in Light on Saint John is a comfort beyond words:
“I lay down my life for the sheep,” He [Christ] says: I am willing to sacrifice anything to save the souls allotted to my care, because my Father wants not a single soul to be lost. I must bring every marked soul back to Him. This is my work. For this He has sent me to your level. I am prepared even to give my life to save them.3
- Bible, John 10:16
- Light on Saint John, p. 148
- Light on Saint John, p. 147