By Jennifer Brookins

Baba Ji’s driver is waiting for us in Amritsar. I’m so happy to be here that I smile and greet him. “Mera sir dukda.”
Sunny is a handsome young man who goes out of his way to help with our luggage. He has a funny sense of humor, speaks perfect English and smiles at my attempt to speak Punjabi and says,

“Jennifer you just said you have a headache.”

He laughs and tells me not to worry, that I’ll learn a few important words in no time. Once our luggage is in the car, he tells us that Indians have been pouring in since yesterday. Baba Ji will come tonight for his birthday celebration. It’s late, and we’re barely going to make it; no time to waste in Amritsar. I feel my heart begin to race. The drive from Amritsar to Dera Tarn Taran is an experience I am seriously not used to. There are no traffic regulations, just drivers on suicide missions, and motorcycles weaving in and out with no sense of right or left lanes. Three people huddle together on a motorcycle and weave around a buffalo standing dead center in the road. He can’t make up his mind about why he’s there or where he’s going. Indians love to beep their horns which confuses the buffalo even more. I imagine myself lying on the roadside dead as a doornail. Tarn Taran is a small rural town where Baba Ji lives along with residents who work here. Busloads of Indians who arrived the day before seem happy to sleep outside in sub-zero weather just to be near him and pay their respects to this great Saint. I notice some without hoes wearing only thin shawls around their shoulders. They don’t seem to care. More busloads from nearby villages are just arriving. The moment we drive through the gates I hear a groundswell of voices singing shabds of love and devotion. The air is electric with song. I feels a sense of relief as though I’ve come home again. Baba Ji is greatly loved by all. Whenever he travels to give satsang, the Indian hotline lets everyone know when he’s about to drive through the front gate. No matter how exhausted he is, he makes time to hear the children sing shabds he taught them at a very young age. Afterwards, he gives them candy prashad. It is something to behold.

It is a humbling experience to see what Baba Ji has done to welcome us. On a small table is a lovely arrangement of flowers from his garden; a box of Indian candy; a bowl of apples, oranges, and bananas. It is a cozy room, approximately 12X16 feet with a heater, bed, and bathroom. Perfect for meditation. He has gone to great lengths to make our stay a happy one. We quickly revive ourselves by splashing water on our faces, put on extra shawls, lock the door, and walk to the Bhandara Hall. Before entering we take off our shoes, find a spot in the back and sit cross legged Indian style, men to the left, women to the right. Satsang is held in this room each morning and evening. The floor is made from polished buffalo dung and covered with some type of matting. Overhead there is a tin roof with tarpaulin sides anchored with rope to keep wind and rain from coming in. I see small birds huddled together on top of tenting posts. Once again, I hear a crescendo of shabds. Everyone looks in the direction of Baba Ji who now walks who now walks inside on a red carpet assisted on each arm by sevadars. It is impossible to put this moment into words. The sudden silence is deafening in the presence of this great Saint. Once again the room is alive with shabds, more importantly the beautiful radiant face of Baba Kehar Singh Maharaj who gently motions the crowd to quieten down. In silence his head slowly turns from one side of the room to the other. He is giving darshan to each of us”

from India with a Backpack and Prayer available in both Kindle and paperback.

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