Lovers of God, develop an intense desire for God and pray and worship Him in a hope to receive His Grace and Darshan. But Khushwant Singh was one entity whome God Himself desired to meet and give His grace. God Himself had the intense desire to drenth this soul with His love. This can be best expressed in the following verse -
Rindon ki talab par Saakiye Kausar ko bhi josh aayaa
Paimaana bakaf aayaa maikhaanaa badosh aayaa
The quest of the Seekers so filled the Saki with Joy,
That he came, a glass in his hand, and the drinking tavern on his shoulders!
It was a verse that Khushwant Singh the noted author and journalist was to quote in his column in the Hindustan Times years later in March 1993, after Shri Nathji had gone from the planet earth in his physical form. Khuswant Singh recollected how Shri
Nathji had said these words to him when he went to meet Shri Nathji in July 1988–and how Shri Nathji embraced him, causing the man to break out into tears.
He wrote in 1993:
“Never in my life had I seen such a noor– a divine light. There was a spiritual glow on his face, an unearthly glow, the feeling of Love was so strong that I could not control my tears which burst out the moment he embraced me…I thought I had met with my tryst with destiny…when he passed away I thought I would never see anyone else like him again…till I met his son, Priya Nath, who had the same voice, the same flow of Urdu and Persian…”
Never again would the world see such a one as Shri Nathji who could convert hardened atheists in a single embrace. Never again would the world see such a one as Shri Nathji who had accepted all religions of the world as his own, and who was accepted by people of all religious faiths. Shri Nathji was a surging ocean of Love and all who came to him were drowned in that Ocean of Love to be lost forever in Him.
HH Priya Nath had written a letter to Khushwant Singh about the World Day of Love and the World Prayer Day. He was an internationally known author and columnist who purported to be an agnostic. HH Priya Nath had always had the feeling that Khushwant Singh, despite his outer agnosticism, was a very good person at heart, and that he would be very receptive to Shri Nathji.
There was a reply from Khushwant Singh to HH Priya Nath’s letter, in which he paid his respects to Shri Nathji and wished his mission all fulfilment.
There was a time in 1975 when he had been the editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India and was posted at Bombay. Priya Nath had read Khushwant Singh’s commentary on Sir Iqbal’s verse:
Kabhi ai Haqueeqate Muntazar, nazar aa libaase majaaz men
Ke hazaaron sajde tarrap rahe hain meri jabeene niyaaz men
O Thou Much Awaited Reality, appear before me in human form
For thousands of prostrations await their fulfilment upon my forehead
Priya Nath had written to Khushwant Singh that the Haqueeqate Muntazar was walking upon the earth in the form of Shri Nathji, and Khushwant Singh had written back that he would be very happy to see Shri Nathji if he ever came to Bombay.
Shri Nathji never went to Bombay, but Khushwant Singh – who had forgotten all about him by then – was destined to meet Shri Nathji at his home on the 7th of June, 1988, at Delhi, and to be instantly converted.
An advertisement about the World Prayer Day is given to the Illustrated Weekly of India – HH Priya Nath’s favorite magazine, which had Khushwant Singh as its Editor many years ago. HH Priya Nath suggests calling Khushwant Singh – a self-professed agnostic, for Shri Nathji’s darshan. Vijay Kapahi tries to see how it can be arranged, because a man of Khushwant Singh’s stature would not be likely to come to anyone’s home – far less to the house of a Spiritual Leader.
Shri Nathji tells Priya Nath:
“I had a dream last night that Khushwant Singh came before me and fell instantly at my feet with devotion!”
Priya Nath also has a feeling that the man will receive ‘light’ from Shri Nathji. The atmosphere in Delhi is virtually agnostic and Khushwant Singh is a confirmed Delhi resident as well as a confirmed agnostic. But there is something in him, which Shri Nathji finds attractive – an inner goodness of the heart as revealed in his writings.
The religious bigots and the spiritual frauds of the world had made Khushwant Singh shy away from religion. However, HH Priya Nath was sure that if he ever came before Shri Nathji, he would be deeply affected and maybe even converted.
Shri Nathji sends a letter to Khushwant Singh through His emissary, Vijay Kapahi. Khushwant Singh is at first reluctant to come, as he does not believe in Prayers and God, but agrees to meet Shri Nathji at Shri Nathji’s house on the 7th of June 1988. This is a miracle in itself, as Khushwant Singh rarely goes to people’s residences to interview them. On the contrary, people come to him at his place. Priya Nath is certain the meeting will be a historic occasion. Shri Nathji is very happy and asks that the big room, and generally the house, be cleaned especially for Khushwant Singh.
The 7th of June, 1988 is, indeed, a historic day. Shri Nathji sits in his bed, in his reddish-orange head kerchief. His voice appears weak, but he is otherwise all right. At about 4 p.m. Shri Nathji listens to some of his old ghazals, which he wants Priya Nath to present to Khuswant Singh, who is to come at 5 p.m. At 5 p.m. sharp, Khushwant Singh enters the house escorted by his security guard and Vijay Kapahi. He is dressed in trousers and a light blue T-shirt. He appears to wear a frown on his face, which is actually due to a furrow on his forehead. He is otherwise, a humorist.
Priya Nath greets him at the door with the words:
“At last a long-cherished desire is being fulfilled!”
Khushwant Singh is taken by Priya Nath to Shri Nathji’s bedroom. He peeps in. Priya Nath announces:
“Khushwant Singhji aaye hain!
“Khushwant Singhji has come!”
Shri Nathji stops writing, and looks up at Khushwant Singh, and, then says in a very loud voice in Persian:
“Be- hijaabaana daraa az dare kaashaanaye maa
Ke kase nest vajuz darde to dar khaanaye maa”
“Enter thou within these doors without the least bit of hesitation,
For in my house, there is only a pain for Thee”
Suddenly, some Spiritual Power grips Khushwant Singh’s heart – and he rushes into the room and falls at Shri Nathji’ feet, bursting out into tears, even as Shri Nathji thumps him on his back and embraces him!
Shri Nathji says:
“Khushwant means ‘khush-bakht’ ‘khushwakt’ – meaning a beautiful time! The time of happiness has come!”
Despite his self-professed agnosticism, Khushwant Singh’s soul had been in search of the Truth. He had once taught Religion at the prestigious Princeton University in America, and had met almost all the saints and sages in India and abroad. He had found Reality nowhere. In an article he had written, he had said:
“These saints quote verses from Kabir and other scriptures – I know these writings more than they do. They fail to make any impression on me!”
Here he was face to face with God in human form. Shri Nathji had embraced him in a gesture of Divine Love. A long lost soul had come back to Him. Khushwant Singh’s soul vibrated with an hitherto inexperienced feeling. His soul recognised the Universal Soul of Shri Nathji. His intellect and mind were baffled, bewildered. He had never met such a Being before in his life. The tears that flowed from his eyes were tears of Union, perhaps one which had come about after ages of separation.
As Khushwant Singh sits down on a chair by the side of Shri Nathji’s bed, Shri Nathji’s Divine Flow of words goes out towards him in a torrent of Urdu and Persian verses interspersed with Hindi, Sanskrit and English. Khushwant Singh’s face lights up.
Shri Nathji’s spiritual radiance is so strong it lights up Khushwant Singh’s heart and soul. Khushwant Singh is so lost in Shri Nathji’s Divine Beauty and Radiance that he is scarcely listening, but asks occasionally.
“Ye kiskaa hai?
“Whose verse is it?” –when Shri Nathji recites complex Urdu and Persian couplets.
Shri Nathji says:
Ki ai rinde kharaabaatiye deevaanaye ma
Early in the morning I heard a voice from without my Tavern.
O, thou unbeliever, thou who lovest me -
Barkez ke pur kunam paimaanaa za mai
Zaan pesh ke pur kunand paimaanaye maa!
Arise! And let me fill thy cup with wine, Before the cup of life becomes filled!
Shri Nathji explains the Persian couplets.
Here was a long lost soul coming before the Perfect Master, and the Perfect Master beckoning him to come within his tavern and partake of the Divine Wine he had to offer. The long lost soul was Khushwant Singh and the Perfect Master was Shri Nathji.
Shri Nathji catches hold of Khushwant Singh’s hands and tells him:
“Main aap se bhee zyaada aapko pyaar kartaa hoon!
“I love you more than you love yourself!”
“My Dearest Khushwant Singh!” says Shri Nathji with overflowing love,
“Aap heere ho! Main aapko paihchaanta hoon!
“You are a diamond. I know your worth!”
Shri Nathji’s love for atheists was like the love of a mother for the little child that could not even recognize his mother. Shri Nathji recited another of his favourite verses:
“Makaane yaar door az man, na par daaram na paa ai dil
Ajab dar mushkil uftaadam chunaan tai saizam een manzil
“The House of my Beloved is far away, I have neither wings nor feet, O Heart!
A strange dilemma is this, how can I reach my destination!”
This was the plaintive cry of the human soul trying to reach the Universal Soul. It was like the drop trying to reach the ocean. Shri Nathji spoke at great length on the drop and the ocean:
“The drop of dew that lay glistering on the petal of a rose soon realised that this was not its home, even as a gust of wind shook the rose. The drop saw the dust below into which it would fall and perish, and fear filled its heart. It realised how insecure, how fearful, how helpless it was.
The conversation between Shri Nathji and Kushwant Singh has been given in great detail in Mahagranth Part three in pages 424 to 429.
Khushwant Singh left, asking for six photographs of Shri Nathji in the head kerchief, so that he could do a write-up on him. Even as Khushwant Singh left the room, his security guard sought permission to come inside and touch Shri Nathji’s feet. Shri Nathji blessed the security guard and patted him on his back.
At the gate of Shri Nathji’s house, Khushwant Singh asked HH Priya Nath for directions to reach Shri Nathji’s residence so that he could come at any time to secure Shri Nathji’s darshan again. HH Priya Nath later embraced Shri Nathji for the magnificent work he had done–of changing an agnostic’s heart in a single glance. Only Shri Nathji was capable of such a divine feat. Not even Rama and Krishna had been able to convert agnostics – and had to destroy them!
Khushwant Singh was born 2 February 1915. He is a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh's weekly column, "With Malice towards One and All", carried by several Indian newspapers, is among the most widely-read columns in the country.
An important Indo-Anglian novelist, Singh is best known for his trenchant secularism, his humor, and an abiding love of poetry. His comparisons of social and behavioral characteristics of Westerners and Indians are laced with acid wit. He served as editor of several well-known literary and news magazines, as well as two major broadsheet newspapers, through the 1970s and 1980s. He is a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan the second highest civilian award in India. The western angloindian Begger in his own words, with utmost biased notions for all communities.
He was born in Hadali District Sargodha, Punjab (which now lies in Pakistan), in a Sikh family. His father, Sir Sobha Singh, was a prominent builder in Lutyens' Delhi. His uncle Sardar Ujjal Singh(1895–1983) was Ex. Governor of Punjab & Tamil Nadu.
He was educated at Modern School, New Delhi, Government College, Lahore, St. Stephen's College in Delhi and King's College, London, before reading for the Bar at the Inner Temple.
Kushwant Singh has edited Yojana, an Indian government journal; The Illustrated Weekly of India, a newsweekly; and two major Indian newspapers, The National Herald and the Hindustan Times. During his tenure, The Illustrated Weekly became India's pre-eminent newsweekly. After Singh's departure, it suffered a huge drop in readership.
From 1980 through 1986, Singh was a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 for service to his country. In 1984, he returned the award in protest against the siege of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army. In 2007, the Indian government awarded Khushwant Singh the Padma Vibhushan.
Khuswant Singh is said to wake up at 4 am each day and write his columns by hand. His works range from political commentary and contemporary satire to outstanding translations of Sikh religious texts and Urdu poetry. Despite the name, his column "With Malice Towards One and All" regularly contains secular exhortations and messages of peace. In addition, he is one of the last remaining writers to have personally known most of the stalwart writers and poets of Urdu and Punjabi languages, and profiles his recently deceased contemporaries in his column. One of the most striking aspects of his weekly writings is his outright honesty; he will openly admit to his weaknesses and mistakes, along with an acceptance of his declining health and physical abilities in more recent times.
He is better viewed as an establishment liberal. He has remained resolutely positive on the promise of Indian democracy and worked via Citizen's Justice Committee floated by H. S. Phoolka who is a senior advocate of Delhi High Court.
He has a son, named Rahul Singh, and a daughter, named Mala. He is the paternal uncle of actress Amrita Singh. He stays in "Sujan Singh Park", near Khan Market New Delhi, Delhi's first apartment complex, built by his father in 1945, and named after his grandfather.