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Guruji Maharaj or Guruji (7 July 1952- 31 May 2007), as he is popularly referred to, was born Nirmal Singh Maharaj at Dugri village, Sangrur district, Punjab, India on July 7, 1952 to a Sikh family. Guru refers to a spiritual guide in Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, but Guruji Maharaj is believed by his followers to have been a Supreme Guru with the supernatural and generative powers of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva.
Guruji's Life and Teachings
There is little written documentation on Guruji's early life. Much of the information on his early life has been orally transmitted by his followers. There is some written evidence of his teachings in the books Pyaare Guruji and the Light of Divinity which are distributed by his followers. The independently published My Journey with Guruji recounts the author, Raman's (pseudonym), telepathic connection with Guruji. All written literature on Guruji is hagiographical and devotional in nature.
According to the book Pyaare Guruji, Guruji displayed a spiritual inclination from a young age and began displaying supernatural powers as a student. Guruji, then Nirmal Singh Maharaj, completed his schooling and received a Master's degree Economics and Political Science. He then began receiving disciples/ sangat in various towns of Punjab and Haryana including Jalandhar, Chandigarh, and Panchkula and Delhi. According to the website, GurujiSangat.org created and maintained by his followers, his popularity grew as his disciples began to experience miracles in the realm of health, relationships, and finances and began sharing their experiences by word-of-mouth. It is said that as word spread about the miracles he performed, people from across India and other countries began coming to seek his blessings. It has been narrated by several close disciples of his that he could intuit the thoughts of those who came to seek his blessings. All his followers recall him saying that they should not ask for anything from him and instead surrender and believe unconditionally in divine grace. In Punjabi, he said, "Mangoh Nahin, Mannoh" (Don't Ask, Believe). Another website created and maintained by his followers, GurujiMaharaj.com, has a section on first hand experiences and encounters with Guruji.
Guruji instructed his disciples to listen to Shabads (hymns in Punjabi and Hindi), Sachi Banis (devotional songs dedicated to Sikh gurus), and gurbani from the Guru Granth Sahib. Pyaare Guruji states that the Shabads emphasize the importance of ardas (prayer with humble request to God), love and devotion of Guruji, contemplation of the shabads, concentration, and shukrana (gratitude). His followers chant the mantra "Om Namah Shivay Shiv Ji Sada Sahay / Om Namah Shivay Guruji Sada Sahay" which they believe to be powerful.
His disciples recall him asking them to leave their ego with their shoes outside the door of the temple. In Punjabi he said, "Akal tey Raffal Bahar Chhad Ki Aao" (Leave your rational brains and ego outside with your shoes). His disciples said they would be overjoyed when he said "Kalyan Karta" which meant he had blessed them. According to Pyaare Guruji, Guruji often said "If you cannot help anyone, at least do not harm anyone." He asked his followers to follow his ABC:
a) Do Not Abuse
b) Do Not Blame
c) Do Not Criticize
Unlike many Gurus, Guruji refused to deliver any pravachans (religious sermons) or prescribe any elaborate rituals. He encouraged practical learning and asked his followers to develop a direct connection with him through meditation and prayer. Guruji emphasized the healing power of prasāda (religious offerings) and discouraged its waste. His followers claim that he continues to bless the langar prasad (communal meal), chai prasad (tea offerings) and jal prasad (water offerings) prepared and served in front of his photo. Guruji told his followers: "Mandir main Khaya to Davai aur bahar khaya to Mithai hai" (If you eat in the temple, it is healing medicine and if you eat outside, it is just sweets). His emphasized the importance of cleanliness and discipline at all times.
He urged his followers not to waste money on flowers and temple decorations but instead feed poor people. He encouraged serving simple langar prasad and chai prasad. His followers say he was fond of jasmine flowers and elaichi (green cardamom) chai. Guruji discouraged practicing and/or following astrology and superstitions. He asked his disciples who did birth chart readings and prescribed astrological remedies and gemstone remedies to stop as they would accrue bad karma.
Guruji passed away on May 31, 2007. He left no successor.
Guruji was often criticized when he was alive for being surrounded by and blessing rich and powerful people. Guruji countered the criticism by saying that blessings were needed both by the rich and the poor. He said he welcomed people from all castes, classes, religions, and all walks of life.
Guruji has been criticized by several Sikhs who accuse him of trying to start his own faith. The devout Sikhs say that his teachings prevent the Sikh congregation from focusing on their holy book The Guru Granth Sahib, which the Sikhs consider the only living Guru, and from going only to the Sikh holy temples, the gurudwaras.
He has also received criticism from several lay Buddhist practitioners from the Soka Gakkai who believe that an individual has the power to shape his/her destiny and the act of complete surrender to the divine force makes individuals passive and prevents them from developing their human potential.
The major celebrations for Guruji followers every year include Maha Shivratri (Great night of Shiva), Baisakhi (a traditional harvest festival that commemorates the formation of Khalsa, the community of initiated Sikhs), Guruji's birthday on July 7, Guru Purnima Day (when Hindus and Buddhists pay respect to their Guru), and New Year (on Dec 31).
Major Guruji temples
There are three major Guruji temples open to the public in India. They include the Bada Mandir in Delhi which attracts thousands of devotees every week. The Bada Mandir has a huge granite lingam, the symbol of Hindu deity Lord Shiva, on top of it.
The Dugri Mandir at Malerkotla, Sangrur, Punjab is open on the first Sunday of every month.
Guruji was based in New Delhi in S block Greater Kailash -1 in 1995. From there he moved to Empire Estate on Mehrauli Gurgaon Road, Delhi which is now referred to as Chota Mandir (Small Temple). The S block Greater Kailash -1 residence and Empire Estate are now rarely open to the public.
There are Guruji temples in several countries including the US now. In the US, the biggest temples are in Somerset and Edison in New Jersey.
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