He taught them to be patient and selfless; they responded by standing in a snaking line under the scorching summer sun to pay their last respects to the beloved guru — Baba Hardev Singh, leader of the Nirankari sect.
Thousands of devotees of the 62-year-old Baba, who died along with his son-in-law in a road accident in Canada, gathered at Samagam Ground No 8 near Sant Nirankari Colony in north Delhi on Monday, where the bodies were laid in state in two flower-decked glass caskets.
The followers thronged from across the country — Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Bihar. One final glimpse of their guru, who headed the religio-philanthropic Sant Nirankari Mission, was all they wished for.
“The teachings of guruji made me realise the importance of being selfless. I and my friends will be here till the funeral on Wednesday,” said Moharpal Singh from Shahjanpur in UP.
The mortal remains were brought to Delhi on Monday morning and placed inside a large hall on an open ground, where followers of the sect usually gather for sermons.
“Devotees from India and abroad have come to for the antim darshan of Baba Hardev Singhji. It will continue round-the-clock till Wednesday morning,” said Kirpa Singh, a member of the mission.
The spiritual leader and son-in-law Avneet Setya died in a car crash near Montreal in Canada on May 13. The 29-year-old Setya from Panchkula was pulled out alive of the mangled Cadillac Escalade SUV but died later.
The Baba’s body will be taken to Nigam Bodh Ghat for the last rites at 8am on Wednesday. The successor is likely to be announced thereafter.
“This is a very emotional moment for us. The successor will be announced soon after we get a signal from the Baba,” he said.
The Baba became a member of the sect in 1971 and its spiritual head on April 24, 1980, succeeding his father and previous head, Baba Gurbachan Singh, who was shot dead.
The Baba’s life came to a sudden end when he had gone to North America to oversee logistics for an international congregation, slated for June 29 to July 6 in Toronto. The vent was part of the sect’s expansion policy that the Baba launched in 2015 through a function in Birmingham, UK. He had planned to make it an annual feature, like the ones the mission holds in Delhi, UP, and Maharashtra.
And from Maharashtra’s Nashik town, Baba loyalist Bhourao Dhavku came rushing to Delhi after hearing the “saddest news of his life”.
“I have been a devotee of Sant Nirankari Mission for decades. I want to see Babaji one last time and take his blessings,” he said, choking.