Chance Meetings with God
Is there is a Divine Presence watching over us? Or is a matter of faith and belief? Capt. Ravi Mahajan (Retd.) tries to find an answer through some examples in his life
Is the world, including humans, created by God or was it the human mind that has created God? Who created this immensely beautiful world? Who runs it with meticulous precision? Everything in this world seems to be running on its own like a department where you can see the things and the people moving about but do not see the organiser anywhere. Who is behind all that what seems to be happening of its own in this world?
The question has not been answered for ages and perhaps, would never be. As they often say — Divine presence is a matter of faith. However, whichever way it might be, divine presence, though never seen in our lives, is felt many a times. Often, there are no explanations for many events the way they happen but we humans attribute those to whichever ‘God’ we believe in. There is no doubt that though ‘God’ does not seem to have any physical form, His existence cannot be denied. For those who believe in Him, no explanation is required. Fo those who don’t, none is possible.
I shall narrate here a few events in my life for which, I have never been able to find a plausible explanation. It happened in the year 1955 or 1956. My mother belonged to Himachal Pradesh (HP).I would have been 10-12 years old then. During our summer holidays, we used to go to various places in Himachal Pradesh with my mother since my maternal uncle was posted as the Divisional Forest Officer at Bilaspur (HP). Often, I used to accompany my uncle during his inspection tours to the interiors of Himachal. On this fateful day, we had gone a long distance from our camp on his jeep. Roads were very bad on those days. While coming back, my uncle was driving the jeep with about 10 people in it. It was a kachcha (rough), unmetalled road and quite slippery since it had drizzled during the night.
I was sitting beside my uncle, with one of his subordinate officers sitting on my left. Others were sitting at the back. The left side of the road was a steep hill, while at the right was a deep gorge. There was hardly any embankment on the gorge side of the road for protection, as is often there these days. While driving at medium speed, my uncle was also talking and giving instructions to his subordinate officer. Suddenly, while negotiating a turn, the jeep skidded on the slippery roads and kept going towards the deep gorge on the right. My uncle loudly mumbled ‘O Bhagwan.’ For him and every one else in the jeep, it seemed to be all over. I could only see the emptiness ahead and the deep gorge hundreds of feet below, where certain violent death awaited all of us. But to everyone’s surprise, the jeep suddenly came to a screeching halt. The whole thing happened in a few seconds. Realizing how close to we had been to certain death, everyone started calling out, ‘He Bhagwan and He Ishwar’, thanking Him profusely for his mercy in saving us from a gruesome end if the jeep had slid into the deep gorge. We had to get out of the jeep from the left side, since the front wheel on the right was dangling in the air.
As soon as we were out of the jeep from left side with great difficulty, everyone realized how close we were to death. A few inches more and the jeep, along with all occupants, would have fallen hundreds of feet down. Every one was badly shaken and trembling with fear at such a close shave! After regaining our composure,all of us were keen to know what had made the jeep to stop so abruptly. When we looked down, we were surprised to see that a stone measuring about 6 inches had blocked the front movement of the rear left wheel, thus bringing the jeep to an abrupt halt. There was no other stone nearby. For all of us, the presence of that stone there right in front of the wheel could only mean divine action. It was nothing short of a miracle. For the first time in my life, I could see a miracle happen to save our lives. This appeared to be God’s work. Though none of us could see Him, denying his presence at that time was impossible.
In 1965, while I was an Army officer in Corps of Signals, we had moved along the Pakistan border in Punjab for Military Operations. Though the war was over, we were still deployed there in the fields and living in tents. Since the wireless section was under me, I had papers related to wireless networks of various formations in our Division and also those of the Corps Headquarters. Those 10 to 12 sheets of cyclostyled papers were classified ‘TOP SECRET.’ Because of their ‘TOP SECRET’ security classification, we were supposed to handle those with great care, as their loss would mean serious problems and severe departmental action to be taken against the officer, because of negligence on his part.
One night, I came back to my tent after dinner & carelessly kept those papers on a small table by my side and slept. Suddenly, I woke up with the noise of a storm during the night with high velocity winds. The side flaps of the tent were flying high in the wind. Before I realized it, a bunch of those papers just flew off into the darkness. I rushed outside but it was pitch dark and I could not see anything .There was a slight drizzle along with the wind and any search for those papers at that time was simply futile. With a heavy heart and fear gripping me, I came back inside the tent and waited eagerly for the day break.
At first light, I came out and started searching for those papers in the open field. Frantically, I searched everywhere digging the open sandy field many times with my hands and feet. I was desperate and went far and wide. But to no avail. As the time passed, all my efforts to find those classified TOP SECRET documents, going in vain, I was totally depressed and dejected. Even after two hours of frantic search, when I could not find those documents, I was terribly upset, thinking of the serious consequences this negligence could have on my carrier. Papers, simply seemed to have vanished in thin air.
Totally disgusted with myself, I came back to my tent and thought of reporting the loss to my Commanding Officer (CO) which was the second best thing to do. I thought, I could do nothing about the matter except requesting God to help me. I remembered a famous temple in my home town Agra in Uttar Pradesh, which I hardly ever visited but promised God that if He somehow, pulled me out of this serious problem, during my next visit, I would light a diya( oil lamp) in the temple. I had never done so earlier but had heard a lot from various people that if one prayed with all sincerity and devotion, help would definitely come. Before I reported the matter to my CO, I thought of having breakfast and walked towards the mess tent which was little far away, in a terribly dejected mood. Suddenly, from nowhere, I saw little arrow type figures, that I had been so desperately looking for, in the ground. I nearly jumped and frantically started removing the sand, until I found one paper, then another. One by one, I picked up all the papers that had been covered by the sand, totally or partially. There was very little chance of me finding those classified papers with arrow marks hidden in the ground, if I had taken a slightly different route to the mess. It was just that divine intervention that I spotted one paper. Remembering Him with a pure heart had worked once again, albeit selfishly.
It happened again in Agra, where I had settled after having been released from the Army and taken a shop on rent for doing business. Our landlord’s son was a rowdy and wanted the premises vacated by force. One day, he came on his bike and pulled out a motor cycle chain to beat me. In self defence, I also pulled out a big iron hammer from the shop. Use of any of the ‘weapons’ could have been fatal with serious consequences for both of us but in the heat of things, we never realised that. A crowd had already assembled and suddenly, just as we were about to use our deadly ‘weapons,’ an old gentleman appeared out of nowhere in between us and with his hands raised, forbade us to use our deadly ‘weapons’ on each other. Due to his frantic effort, both of us cooled down and in the mean time, the boys parents reached, pacified us and took him away. After some time, sitting in our shop with some friends and neighbours, I suddenly remembered the old gentleman and started looking for him but could not find him. The man had simply vanished! In retrospect, when I think of this incidence, I had never seen or met that man and would never ever see him again. But on that day, but for him, both of us could have been in serious trouble, injured or even killed. Like God, that man appeared from nowhere, saved our lives and disappeared as he had come.
Another incidence which I can never forget is when I saw ‘God’ in human form. It happened in 1985. I had shifted to Chennai and bought an old car (A Four door Standard Herald), for family use. One night, at about 10.30 PM, I was returning home with my family after dinner at a friend’s house. I had bought the car only a few days back and knew nothing about it, except sitting and driving. Suddenly the car wobbled. I halted the car, got down and to my horror, found that the rear left wheel was flat. I had never bothered to check where was the jack kept or other tools to replace the wheel and was very nervous. In those days, nothing could be found at that ungodly hour. There were no mobiles and very few people on the road at that time. Worse, I could not converse in Tamil or knew anyone close by.
But there He was. Suddenly Mani appeared from no where. Mani was a relative of a fisherman, who would collect sea specimens for use in Biology labs from Chennai and would bring them to Agra for sale. He would frequently come to Agra and meet us but in Chennai, I had no contact with him or knew his whereabouts. Neither did he know that I had shifted to Chennai. But his appearance at such an odd hour and mere presence, was a great morale booster for me, though we could not communicate. Mani saw the flat tyre of the car, gestured me not to worry but wait, and disappeared. After about fifteen minutes, I again saw Mani returning with a mechanic following him in half sleep. In no time, both of them were on the job, collecting the tools from the nearby parked vehicles. They put the spare wheel and the car, once again, was road worthy. I tried to give Mani some money but he refused to accept and both of them vanished as they had come. I had never met or seen Mani earlier in Chennai nor would, perhaps, ever see him again.
Definitely, we cannot prove God’s existence but cannot deny His presence either. We may never see him but always feel him. It’s like the soothing presence of air in the atmosphere, which we cannot see but always feel. We humans do not know about the next moment but He knows and He knows best for us. Then why not leave ourselves in His safe hands and care?. Any way, it definitely makes more sense to believe in God than not to believe. It matters little whether we can prove his existence or not.