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An Introduction to Dera Sacha Sauda
Since time immemorial many great men have incarnated in this mortal world who have propounded for us principles that help us live life the right way. The collection of such principles came to be known as religion.
Religion in its true sense is about living its principles. When the so-called caretakers of religion, in their selfishness, incorporated complexities into religion and mislead people, to pull them out of these complexities, pretences and malpractices came into existence a philosophy called Sufism. Many great dervishes who brought with them this philosophy had to bear the tortures of the then governing regimes and some even had to sacrifice their lives. Their sacrifices kept bearing fruit from time to time and kept introducing people to the true definition of religion. Sufism is that easy path which brought relief to the society of the medieval times that was entangled in ritualistic religion. Along with protecting people from the unreasonable expenditure on rituals and teaching them true charity, these Sufi saints connected them directly with Paramatma, Allah, Waheguru, God. Interestingly, these Sufi dervishes never belonged to one particular religion or community but came from different religions. It can well be said that they believed in all religions and stressed on living the core principles of religions.
Among these dervishes, the founder of Dera Sacha Sauda, His Holiness Shah Mastana Ji Maharaj's name is taken with great respect. Honoured by his Guru, His Holiness Sawan Shah Ji Maharaj with such titles as 'The Carefree One' and 'The King of Bagarh,' Shah Mastana Ji Maharaj in his powerful yet mellifluous voice taught people who had turned away from religion and God and put them on the road to salvation while disentangling them from the web of longstanding malpractices and connecting them with the true definition of religion. In the form of Dera Sacha Sauda, he founded a spiritual college where today crores of people from different religions and communities come in great faith. Along with taking from here the goal of leading an ideal life, they receive from here the Naam (mystic words that praise and invoke God), by practicing meditation on which they experience even in this degenerate age, while living on this very earth, happiness that is perhaps greater than what is found in heaven. Until 1960, Beparwah Ji removed thousands of people from the darkness of ignorance and illuminated their lives with the light of Knowledge. In order to attract people away from their busy lives and get them to listen to him, he gave away in abundance gold, silver, currency and other such materialistic things, and he went to many a city and village and raised the voice of Truth.
In 1960, Shah Mastana Ji Maharaj transformed his body of five elements into that of His Holiness Shah Satnam Singh Ji Maharaj; or in other words the same Divine Light now began to work for the salvation of humankind in Shah Satnam Ji's body. Shah Satnam Ji - ‘Param Pitaji' to his loving disciples - fulfilled this responsibility with great faith and took good care of the garden of devotees that his Guru had planted. Under the loving care of Param Pitaji this garden flourished greatly and today it has begun to spread its fragrance to the whole of society such that that Dera Sacha Sauda has become an unerasable chapter in the book of spirituality. It is thanks to the lesson of love taught by him that today the courteous and polite conduct of his disciples has given them the status in society of being true devotees of God. It was from him that the devotees of Sacha Sauda learnt the true meaning of social service and sharing in the sorrows of people who are in misery. He taught people who had wandered away from their paths the true meaning of life and living until the year 1991.
After that, he chose His Holiness Sant Gurmeet Ram-Rahim Singh Ji ‘Insan' as his successor in order that the devotees could be served and protected; meaning to say that the Divine Spirit in the form of ‘Hazur Pitaji' again started taking care of Its souls. Today, Dera Sacha Sauda is making progress in leaps and bounds. The number of its devotees now runs in crores. Also, under the holy leadership of Sant Gurmeet Ram-Rahim Ji, Dera Sacha Sauda has become an incomparably effective social service organisation. This organisation that has transformed lakhs and lakhs of homes that had become living hells into heavens, has created many a record in the field of social service under the holy leadership of Hazur Pitaji.
Providing water, food, clothes, etc. to the needy; reconnecting with society the tribals of Rajasthan who had been cut off from it and had been living the uncivilized life of our early ancestors, adorning them with the ornament of education, and assimilating them into civilized society; teaching people who were caught in the quagmire of drugs and crime the true purpose of their lives and reabsorbing them into mainstream society; reaching out to people who had lost their everything in natural disasters, wiping their tears, and doing everything possible to rehabilitate them in spite of the dangers and discomforts involved in such relief activities; organising blood donation camps at regular intervals to supply blood to the ailing (for which the Dera holds two Guinness world records for the maximum units of blood donated in a day); organising free medical treatment camps in villages and cities from time to time; helping girls from poor families to marry; constructing houses for the homeless; and helping provide education for poor-yet-talented children are some of the many welfare activities that Dera Sacha Sauda is carrying out with untiring zeal. Shah Satnam Ji Green ‘S' Welfare Force that carries out these activities under the holy guidance of Hazur Pitaji is a peerless team of volunteers. Besides this, the kind-hearted Hazur Pitaji has established Shah Satnam Ji Asra Ashram for children who have lost their parents in early childhood and Shahi Betiyan Basera to protect society from the curse of female foeticide. Under the holy leadership of Hazur Pitaji, Dera Sacha Sauda in such a short period of time has accomplished as many tasks of human welfare as would have normally taken ages.
Dera Sacha Sauda's labour of love towards the welfare of humankind is still in progress under the holy leadership of Sant Gurmeet Ram-Rahim Singh Insan Ji.
The Establishment of Dera Sacha Sauda
Beparwah Shah Mastana Ji Maharaj, acting upon the command of his Satguru, established Dera Sacha Sauda on April 29, 1948. Before this, Shahenshah Ji along with some satsangis decided on a site for the ashram. This is the same place where today Dera Sacha Sauda's Shah Mastana Ji Dham stands. This place is situated about two kilometers from the city in the southern direction, on the Sirsa-Bhadra road, which is now famous as Shah Satnam Singh Ji Marg. At that time this place was very desolate, extremely rugged, and scattered with trees, thorny bushes and pits. Shahenshah Ji turned the first spade of soil and laid the auspicious foundation for the ashram. A devotional song, "Hari kee kathaa kahaaniyaan, Gurmeet sunaaiyaan (the stories and legends of the Lord, narrated by the beloved Guru)" was sung by a disciple from Mumbai at the opening ceremony and Mastana Ji expounded on the song.
The service of construction of the ashram began in all earnest. First, a hut was built. Devotees began to come from the hamlets adjacent to the ashram and from the city of Sirsa to provide their services. The construction work went on for days and nights. Shahenshah Ji himself stood near the devotees and oversaw the work. Thorny bushes were uprooted and the earth leveled at the site where the ashram was to be built. Many snakes, scorpions and other poisonous creatures surfaced from the earth. Shahenshah Ji ordered the volunteers, "No creature should be killed. It should be caught and let off at a distant place." On the command of Shahenshah Ji, no animal was killed and neither did any of the snakes, scorpions or other poisonous creatures harm anyone. The volunteers used to catch the snakes, scorpions, etc. and immediately take them to a place far away from human settlements and leave them there. This practice is still followed in Dera Sacha Sauda.
The first problem was water. The underground water was not fit for drinking. Drinking water used to be brought from the city of Sirsa. There was a stream adjacent to the ashram that used to carry the water from a dam. Near that was a deep pit. Often the water from the stream used to break away and fall into the pit and fill it. This water was used to knead mud. First, raw bricks were made. H.H. Shahenshah Ji marked with his dangori (walking stick) the site where the foundation for the rooms was to be laid and thereafter the construction of the rooms of the ashram was begun. Raw bricks were made in the night and in the morning the dry bricks were used to construct the rooms. The work was still in progress when the water from the dam stopped. Then to store water a crude tank was dug in the premises of the ashram and water was collected in it. Later on the ashram began to receive its share of the dam water. Also, by H.H.'s grace the underground water became sweet and a tubewell was sunk to draw the water from the earth.
First a hut was built for H.H. Mastana Ji. Adjoining the hut was built a cave, the entrance of which was inside the hut. The ceilings of the cave and the hut were the same height. Small rooms with enough space only to sit and not lie down were constructed for the volunteers where they could meditate and also keep their belongings. A verandah was built in front of the rooms. On the opposite side a small room with an attic on top was built. Thorny shrubs were cut and piled into a tall and strong fence around the ashram.
When the ashram was ready H.H. Shahenshah Ji gathered the devotees and told them that he wanted to give a name to the ashram and he asked them to suggest a name. The devotees became silent. Then H.H. Shahenshah Ji himself suggested three names: Roohani College (Spiritual College), Chetan Kutiya (Hut of Consciousness), and Sacha Sauda (The True Deal). H.H. Shahenshah Ji asked the devotees to select a name from the three. A devotee stood up and said "Sacha Sauda". In this manner this holy place was named Sacha Sauda or rather Dera Sacha Sauda.
At that time Beparwah Mastana Ji declared, "This Sacha Sauda is that which has been coming down ages since the earliest times. This is not a new religion or wave. Sacha Sauda stands for the true deal. The truth here is Bhagwan, Ishwar, Israar, Waheguru, Allah, Khuda, God and the deal is to chant His Name or earn the wealth of His Name. Other than the Name of God every other business in this world is a lie. There is nothing in this world that will always exist or remain constant. The only true business in this world is chanting the Name of Ishwar, Waheguru, Khuda, God."
The land of a Boota Ram of Sirsa used to be adjacent to the ashram and he used to visit H.H. Shahenshah Ji often. One day someone stole the water pots that had been kept in the ashram. Boota Ram pleaded, "Babaji, we won't stay here. We‘ll go somewhere else and build our hut. There are thieves here who steal even water pots." When he heard this Shahenshah Ji laughed and asked, "Son! Why were the pots of water kept here?" The devotee replied, "To drink water, sir." H.H. then said, "Then it is their choice whether they drink it here or take the pots home and drink. Boota Ram! Son! Remember these words - There is nothing in Sacha Sauda that is ever going to end. This treasure of the Holy Name will never end in both worlds. You say we ought to leave this place and build the Dera elsewhere. Remember! At this place the east will bow down, the west will bow down, the whole world and the entire universe will bow down. The worth of a fakir is not known in his lifetime. People had thrown stones even at Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Even here some people driven by their minds had tried their best that they would not allow Dhan Dhan Satguru Tera Hi Aasra to be uttered here, that the Dera would not be allowed to be built here, but in the end the Living God inside has done it and shown them. The shop of Sacha Sauda has only been built now, later on Ram Naam will be stocked here, then the shop will start running, and then the world will know. Right now it is only the pitter-patter of a drizzle; when the torrents of rain begin, then people will know. When by the grace of the Spirit of Sawan Shah, the Mastana Spirit starts working, it will make everyone ecstatic."
Shahenshah Mastana Ji Maharaj built clock towers, caves and many a grand building in Dera Sacha Sauda and then had them demolished. Seventeen magnificent main gates of the ashram were built and demolished. The one that stands now is the eighteenth one. All this constructing and demolishing was done to demonstrate to people the impermanence of life. One must not to be too attached to one's body as one would never know when it would be brought down like one of the buildings. Also, this way he used to utilize the services of the satsangis so that their minds would be diverted from negativity and would be engrossed in devotion.
Shahenshah Mastana Ji oversaw many a construction activity in the ashram. In this trend, in 1959 he built an Anaami round cave. Before this, Beparwah Mastana Ji Maharaj in order to test Param Pita Shah Satnam Singh Ji Maharaj ordered him to demolish his ancestral house. As soon as he received the command he demolished his house with his own hands and loaded all the furnishings onto trucks and tractors and brought them to Dera Sacha Sauda and later on distributed them among the devotees who had come to the Satsang. Some of the bricks and girders that were brought were used in the construction of the Anaami round cave. After Beparwah Mastana Ji Maharaj left his mortal form and H.H. Param Pita Shah Satnam Singh Ji Maharaj took over the responsibility of the ashram, he constructed a big hall near the main gate of the ashram for the comfort of the devotees. Also many a construction activity was carried out in the courtyard of the ashram as the need arose.
On September 23, 1990 the third Mastership of Dera Sacha Sauda in the form of H.H. Hazoor Pita Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan assumed the responsibility of serving the community of devotees. In order to attend to the requirements of the ever increasing community of devotees the momentum that H.H. provided to the expansion activities of the ashram is a fulfillment of the prophecy of H.H. Shah Mastana Ji that readymade buildings would descend here from the sky.