Chapter 8

The Bhandara

I used to walk almost daily upto Swamiji's cave and stay with him for sometime. He also came to our home off and on.

Somewhere in the middle of June 1969, Swamiji said to me one day - Ram Lal, I sahll be doing Bhandara tomorrow. Will you come? Bhandara means giving of free meals to everybody whosoever comes here. I replied - I shall certainly come with you if you so please.

Swamiji told me to bring a few friends also to work in the Bhandara. It was Sunday. I along with my friends went to Swamiji at 8:00am in the morning. On seeing me with my friends Swamiji smiled and said - So you have come for Bhandara. What have you bought with you? I understand that you have come barehanded. I was just a young man at that time so did not understand the ways of the world. I never knew that I should have not come bare handed and should have brought some provisions and ration for Bhandara. I said to Swamiji - Maharaj ji you never told me bring anything. So I have come alone - barehanded. Now tell me what to do.

Swamiji began to laugh and said - Don't worr, everything will be Ok by the grace of God. See what He does. Go to my cottage and bring some utensils. Saying this he sat down. I was puzzled with the idea as to what Bhandara will be done today without any food items available. There were just empty utensils lying here and there. 

He sat and asked me to sit and said - Lets Him take care of this Bhandara. He will come to rescue the devotees and fulfils their ambitions. I remembered Lord Krishna's promise which He gave to Arjuna and all the devotees of Bhagwad Geeta - तेषाम् नित्यभियुक्तानाम् योगक्षेममं वहाम्ह्यम् - That is to say - He who remembers me constantly, I take care of them and provide them everything they need.

Still there was curosity in my mind as to what will happen today. We sat on the ground chatting. Swamiji asked us to lit the fire between three stones which will make an open stove to cook the meals. We obeyed his words and lit the fire, put the couldron on it also put some water in it; and I sat wondering how the Bhandara will start without anything. In the meantime a business man from Akhara Bazar came with a bag full of potatoes, wheat, flour and Ghee. Swamiji laughed and said - You have brought all this, what is the matter. You used to come with fruits and sweets. He said - SwamijiI got some ineer inspiratio, as if you are calling me and telling me to bring these articles so I brought them.

Swamiji did not say anything rather he smiled and asked me to put the potatoes into the claudran for boiling. Meanwhile my friends JL Sud and Gopinder Chaudhari prepared the flour to make Chapaties. Swamiji asked me to bring spices and salt from the cottage and prepare some potato vegetable. Meanwhile some of the other devotees of Swamiji also arrived and asked what was happening - we told them that the Bhandara is being started today. They also joined hands with us and we prepared potatoes and puris to serve.

Bhandara was all ready. But all of us were thinking whom to offer these meals. In those days this area was known as Jogi Nala - a place where Yogi's used to meditate and no one used to come there except the cowherds.

So when the meals were ready there was none on the road to whom we could offer it. It was amusing with the idea as who will be that fortunate person who will come on scene first and shall be offered Bhandara by Swamiji.

I told Swamiji. Maharaj ji, Bhandara is ready now and whom shall we offer it?

Swamiji smiled and said, why you worry? Sit down and be calm. The first one to pass this road will be our Atithi - Our Guest and we will offer him the meals.

We again sat laughing and talking. In the meantime there was a man passing by. Swamiji said, Arey he is our guest, offer him the meals. We requested the man to come and have the meals - he agreed and ate to his heart's content.

Seeing this Swamiji smiled like a victorious General - yes it was something more than winning a war for him. It was something like he is virtually inaugurating Bhandara that will continue till the temple is existing.

Then started the Bhandara - whosoever passed the temple road was offered meals. In the meantime this news spread in the town that Swamiji of Mahadevi Tirth has started the Bhandara.

Scores of ladies and gents flocked along with Ration and Provisions. The utencils were brought by the devotees from the town and food prepartions in the Bhandara stared on a larger scale. Buses and vehicles coming from Manali and Kullu stopped here and passengers used to have the Bhandara after having the divine darshanas of Maa Bhagwati.

Workers in the Bhandara also increased and ultimately the Bhandara which was started like a drop started taking the shape of the ocean.

By every afternoon 3:00pm, long lines were seen taking meals on the river bank and acore of workers were preparing and serving the meals. People were so glad to participate in the Bhandara activity, that the ration and other materials for cooking were bought from the town by them. Swamiji used to sit near the flag hoisting place and used to watch all this and kept smiling by seeing the progress of Bhandara. People used to go to him and ask his blessing by touching his feet. I was amazed and wonder struck with the grand success of Bhandara.

This hustle and bustle continued upto 7:00pm. People came continuously, worked in the Bhandara, took Prasad, touched the feet of Swamiji and went home happily talking about the Bhandara in the lonely place.

Now it was time for closing the Bhandara. The rush in the Bhandara dwindled and so we also stopped further, the cooking of food. Cooked material was almost finished, but some uncooked material like wheat flour, vegetables, potatoes and ghee was left out. I said, Maharaj ji, let us take this remaining material to the temple and close the Bhandara.

Swamiji became serious, perhaps angry with me and said - arey what did you bring from my cottage - tell me. I said Maharaj ji, the empty utensils only, there was nothing else there. Then Swamiji said, Then what right you have to take all this to my cottage. You bought empty utensils, take only the empty utensils back to the cottage. All the provisions have been bought by people and must reach to the people and then only we shall go back to the cottage bare handed as we cam from the cottage.

Then, the remaining provisions were also cooked and at the same time the last bus from Manali to Shimla cam. People stopped and Prasad was offered to all the passengers and we took our meals. The utensils were cleaned and taken back to the Swamiji's cottage.

The next day, when I came to Swamiji and asked the significance of all this and the secret of success of the Bhandara. Swamiji smiled and said, Look here Ram Lal. This is the law of divine compensation. Accordig to this law whatever you invest in the good of humanity, the Almighty will reimburse you that amount in any way somehow or other. It is best known to the Almighty how to compensate. So, distribute among the poor and needy amd the same will come back to you with interest. Distribute love and you will get back in abundance, much more in quality and quantity. It is the Law of Karma. As you sow so shall you reap. It is an eternal law of Cause and effect as modern Science defines it. So try to good Karma, be good to everybody and you will receive back hundred of times. That is the law of life and that is the real art of living.

I asked Swamiji how is this miracle possible about Bhandara took place without any apparent means, without anything in the store, with only bare utensils kept in the open ground. Swamiji laughed and laughed for some time, then looked towards me and said, These are the most sercret matters, confidential matters which can be revealed only to the true devotees. You are too young to understand all this.

Meditation and will power can do anything in this world even what the people think is impossible. You will come to know later on if you continue meditation and reach some where on the same plane where miracle happens. Continue your advance in the path of devotion to Almighty and don't run after the miracles.

I always considered Swamiji is my friend, philosopher and guide in life. So I did not insist further to unfold the Law of Miracles. My question as to how the Miracles happen, remained unanswered. Years after years passed on. Development work in the temple also continued and progressed well and my meeting with Swamiji also continued as usual.

 Even water, which has a natural tendency to flow downwards, is drawn up to the sky by the sun's rays. In the same way, God's grace lifts up the mind which has got a tendency to run after sense objects. Sharda Maa

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