“Sufi do not belong to any particular caste, creed or religion, they belong to the entire humanity.” says R. K. Gupta in the preface of the book Autobiography which is an account of life of Mahatma Ramchandraji of Fatehgarh (Janab Lalaji Maharaj). It is quite interesting to add here that Janab Lalaji Maharaj was “one and only Sufi saint from Hindu Religion, who was fully authorized to train others and in turn to authorize them to do in accordance with Naqushbandi Sufi tradition.” (Blurb) The editor of the book Sri Mahatma Shri Dinyash Kumar Saxena who too belongs to this spiritual lineage has justified the title Autobiography of A Sufi by quoting Maulana Rumi who says:
Khush tar an bashed ki shirim dilruban
Gujta aayad dar hadith-i-digaran.”
(Secrets of the beloved are better relished, when explained in the language of others.) Here, the other may be another language as well as the other self which is none but the reflection of our own self. In Sufi tradition, ‘Love’ is the basic theme on which the entire Sufi philosophy is based. Be it Hakim Sanai, Mansoor-Al-Hallaj, Jalaluddin Rumi, Rabia-Al Basri, Kabir, Namdeo, Raidas, Hazrat Muinuddin Chisti, Hazrat Nizzamuddin Aulia or so many others prominent saints who have taken birth in our country of beyond the Indian territories and all have been the votaries of love. All the Sufis that have spanned various continents and cultures over millennia all believe in the ‘purity’ which also in the literal meaning of ‘Safa’ by drawing closer to God and to fully embrace the Divine Presence’ in this life by abandoning all ‘dualism’ or ‘multiplicity.’
The book was previously written in Hindi with the title ‘Divya Kranti Ki Amar Kahani’ but now is renamed as Autobiography of A Sufi. The translator R. K. Gupta has translated the book so well that no reader can even surmise that the book was actually a biography and not autobiography. The book is thus a collective labour of Dr. Mrs. Suman Saxena, Mahamna Dinyash Kumar Saxena and R. K. Gupta who have recapitulated the life and teachings of H. H. Lalaji Maharaj (scattered in Ramchandracharyaji’s letters, diaries and other documents and books) in an entirely new alluring language and style.
The book is divided into fourteen chapters all dealing with various major incidents of life and philosophy of H. H. Shri Lalaji Maharaj. In each chapter, the narrator has related many anecdotes/ allusions or references from the spiritual texts like- the Gita, Ramayana, Ramcharit Manas, literatures of saint Kabir Das, Ramtirtha or Vivekananda or Swami Dayananda to elaborate or establish that there is unity of thought in nearly all religions of the world and each and every religion preaches the noble human values that make human life better. Sufi teachers too advocate the philosophy of making the life an ideal one by knowing well the limitations of a living being. The Sufi master believes in the Guru who is the only survivor in mortal life.
In the chapter, ‘The Significance of the Publication of Autobiography’ Lalaji Maharaj has cast all clouds of doubts aside by saying:
To my limited knowledge it appears that living one are those, who have been succeeding sequentially in a chain. This humble fakir (aesthetic) has studies and analyzed various religions and philosophies according to his capability and has come to the faith and belief of his masters and the spiritual knowledge revealed by them, that one can be confident of being protected upto the last. (18)
And at another place, he affirms the same fact in other words:
It is only through the grace of God that one can surrender to him or be blessed with gyana and then alone one could be able to get rid of all sorrows and difficulties and be really happy. (50)
As the Sufi master Lalaji Maharaj was blessed with deep faith and love to his spiritual Guru Hazrat Shah Fazl Ahmad Khan Sahab Rahmat Ullah Allaehi (R.U.A.) whom he not only considered as his own Guru but also the ‘Lord’ of his ‘whole existence’ who has also bestowed upon him Bayat (Oath of allegiance) in the holy hand of his master. Due to gurukripa, Lalaji Maharaj succeeded in maintaining the calm and poise even in the turbulent times when ‘the mirthful period’ of his ‘life disappeared like a dream leaving behind the memories. The master said very firmly:
I had the faith that his turning wheel of time would stop and that longingly it would take me on the path of my Lord. (53)
It was none but his Guru Dev who overturned his ‘boat that was filled with worldly desires and various resolutions and it was He (Anandghan Sachchidanand) alone who lifted it with the waves of storm and threw it on the shore.’ (55) The book is filled with experiences and thoughts of multiple kinds, viz- marriage, love, friendship, yoga, satsang, Sufism, Hinduism and other religions of the world, Brahma, social duties, moral obligations and responsibilities of Grihasth etc. Huzur Lalaji Maharaj believes deeply in the establishment or inculcation of human values in human life. To him, love, truth, righteousness, non-violence, brotherhood and peace are the values that make human living better. Citing various references from his own life, he mirrors how these values continued to cling to him even in times of toils, trials, troubles and tribulations. In fact, life of ideal saint is above human perceptions, as it remains iconic to a real pathfinder. He says aright, “Saints do not belong to any caste, they do not belong to any race, they are above all considerations.” (95)
But elsewhere when one reads the following lines, one comes to know the humane humanity of great souls who eye each and everyone alike:
The real spiritualism is that condition of mind in which one sees all the creatures in self and self in all creatures i.e. he sees the same soul manifesting in all beings with duality completely disapproving from his mind. In such a state the seeker feels the hunger of another hungry man, the sin of a sinner and the sorrow of a man in difficulty. The basis of such spirituality is love. (125)
Being a true Sufi who follows not the path of knowledge but of ‘experiencing’, experimenting and living the esoteric and not just preaching of Brahmvidya, he believes:
In my opinion, it is not knowledge but it is life itself, which needs to be lived. The Lord is like Sandal tree and we, his servants, are like the air. The aim of our lives ought to be carrying His fragrance far and wide in all directions. (151)
In brief, the book is not just an ordinary book of personal experiences, rather it contains innumerable anecdotes of wisdom, Sufi life and philosophy, moral and spiritual truths, and teachings of/ from the life an extraordinary man lives so simply. The book is a ‘story of Sufi who is not concerned about the who, why, where, what or when of the story but who is inclined only to dedication or has only ‘a desire, if he could ever care to listen to it:
Kab wo suntan hai kahani meri !
Aor phir wo bhi jabani meri !!
If the editor and translator fix the minor typos (for example on page no. 93- ‘waist’ has been written in place of ‘waste’) and also revise translation passages (on page no. 121 the translator has done word by word translation by writing three-three nights’) the book will be sparkle more and attract and enlighten the seekers.