a perfect living master
dr. ishwar c. puri (1926 - 2020 )
Dr. Ishwar Puri is an initiate of His beloved Master Hazur Maharaj Baba Sawan Singhji. Dr. Puri is the founder of ISHA – Institute for the Study of Human Awareness in Chicago, IL
Meditation is the art of withdrawing our attention from experience to the experiencer. Meditation is the art of reversing the direction of attention from the illusion to the reality of consciousness….Ishwar Puri
Born on 26th November 1926 in North India to a devout Satsangi (spiritual followers of a living Saint in the tradition of Sant Mat) family. Ishwar Puri was brought up in Lahore, Punjab, India (before the partition). Some months before His birth, His mother had a vivid & profound dream in which she saw a baby boy sitting on the mantle piece in her home that then suddenly raised his hand, as if to give darshan (blessing), but instead started to give her a spiritual discourse. She was naturally very surprised and wanted to know its meaning. So, she went to her spiritual guru (the Great Master of Beas, Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji) to ask for His interpretation. He smiled and replied, “yes, this is the sign of a sadhu (enlightened spiritual being) who is coming to you. He has lectured a lot in the past and will continue to do so in this present life”.
Following Ishwar Ji’s birth, His father was insistent to take the baby to Great Master of Beas for blessings. So, Ishwar Ji met His prospective Holy Guru on the 29th day after His birth, in which the Great Master strangely said to the baby, “Do you recognize Me?”, while gently patting the baby on the head. Ishwar Ji just smiled but did not reply. At the same time Great Master named the baby Ishwar (meaning, “Lord” or “God”). From that day on
Great Master watched over the upbringing of Ishwar Ji and told His parents never to berate or scold Him, and to take good care of Him; following which He was treated like a king by His close family.
At age 1 year only, Great Master requested Ishwar Ji’s father to let their son sit on the stage next to Him, during a Bhandara (celebratory) discourse, and to every one’s surprise Ishwar Ji stayed still and focused, during the whole time (2 hours); something not heard of in a child of that age. Indeed, from a young age Ishwar Ji showed great aptitude and was very curious about everything. He would also hear the enchanting sound of a heavenly bell within His head, though He did not know what it was till later on in His childhood, and thought He was merely imagining it, as no-one else could hear it.
At age 4 year, Ishwar Ji began to attend elementary school, when one day some Italian Buddhist monks happened to be visiting the area and was knocking on local’s doors begging for alms (offerings of food or funds), as is their custom. Then 3 of these monks, with black begging bowls, came to Ishwar Ji’s house in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, North India begging for food. As was the custom in those days, especially by spiritual families, the monks were invited in to sit down and be offered tea & snacks. Ishwar Ji, being curious about who they were, quietly came in at one end of the room. The monks happened to catch sight of Him and recognized some sign on His face/head. Therefore, they suddenly said that they wanted to speak to Ishwar Ji personally and ask Him some questions. Ishwar Ji’s father was surprised, but curiously agreed, thinking, what kind of questions can they expect a 4 year old boy to answer? Anyway, five questions were asked, and Ishwar Ji answered them all correctly to the monk’s satisfaction. Upon hearing the answers, and seeing Ishwar Ji more closely, the monks looked at each other and said out loud, “this boy belongs to us, and so we are going to take Him away”. Ishwar Ji’s father was shocked at this and said, “is that normal for guest Buddhist monks to take children away from their families?” They said “no, but this boy doesn’t belong to you, He belongs with us, for we know the signs”. They then said, “if you don’t believe me, just ask the boy yourself if He would like to come with us, and join us?” Ishwar Ji’s father, being sure His son would say “no” then asked His son exactly that question, to which Ishwar Ji surprisingly said, “yes”. The monks then gratefully thanked their host for the hospitality, got up, and just walked out with Ishwar Ji following them. Ishwar Ji’s father was again surprised but thought that his son would never go past the property gates onto the main street with them. But Ishwar Ji did, and His mother & father were shocked. By the time His mother & father had realised what has happened and had reached the main gate themselves to look for Ishwar Ji, He was gone, so they called the police, saying that their son has been kidnapped by Buddhist monks. The police soon arrived and went to the place, with Ishwar Ji’s parents, where the Italian monks were registered as staying. There they found Ishwar Ji happily playing as if it was His home. Nevertheless, the police took hold of Ishwar Ji and escorted Him backed to His parent’s house.
The whole incident was bizarre, but the family just tried to forget about it over time. It was later discovered, however, that in His former life Ishwar Ji was Prince Siddhartha (Buddha), who promised to return to them in His next life. Meanwhile, Ishwar Ji would visit Great Master at Dera Beas (spiritual colony headquarters) where Great Master would play with Ishwar Ji, just like another child. Great Master showered a lot of affection towards Ishwar Ji and revealed to Him His journey and the path He would undertake in this life.
At age 9½ years (in the year 1936), Ishwar Ji’s grandfather, who was a very pious man, said that Ishwar Ji should receive half-Initiation (spiritual awakening or holy baptism), as was often done in those times, in satsangi (spiritual followers of a living Saint) families. However, Ishwar Ji was bestowed and was given full-Initiation, by Great Master, to everyone’s surprise.
Growing up at the “Dera” (spiritual colony in Beas headed by Great Master) Ishwar Ji did seva (voluntary service), working alongside well-known figures such as Dr. Julian Johnson, Gurcharan Singh Ji Maharaj and Kirpal Singh Ji, in sanitation duty, as well as helping to take care of Bibi Lajo, who herself took personal care of Great Master during His mission in life.
Now, as was the tradition at the time, a full astrological birth chart was prepared at the time of Ishwar Ji’s birth, which showed, among other things, that Ishwar Ji would become blind at age 18 and would tragically die in a car crash at age 54. However, due to Divine intervention, both those events did not happen that way. Instead, Ishwar Ji was blinded for 3 days during a chemistry accident at college in which a chemical splashed into His eyes, causing temporary blindness and pain. Then, at age 54, Ishwar Ji did indeed have a serious car accident in which the life of His young son was lost, yet Ishwar Ji was only bruised. So, although karma theory says that it has to be paid back, one way or another, Divine intervention can reduce it to a mere 10% or less, to those who are true devotees of the Lord. That’s why Ishwar Ji was spared the worst of it.
Regarding the spiritual practice of Sant Mat, that Ishwar Ji represents, at the time of Ishwar Ji’s Initiation, Great Master told initiates that He was giving them the same instructions and grace that was given to Him by His own Master, Baba Jaimal Singh Ji (spiritual Master of Sant Mat; 1839 -1903) and that it has worked for Him. He then said, “but should you find anything better than this then let Me know and I will check it out for Myself, and follow it, if true. You do not need My permission to do so – I give it to you now”.
This statement shows both the confidence and the humility of a Perfect Saint in what They are teaching and how They go about things in the Physical Realm of human beings – meaning, their teaching of an advanced belief system (Sant Mat), compared to lower forms of spiritual practice. Thus, Ishwar Ji took this statement very seriously, and so began, in his teens, his quest for other spiritual paths or religions for anything better. He thought to Himself, “I was born into this Path and so have just been blindly following it, and thus knew of nothing else; so, I should investigate alternatives”. Hence, over a period of more than 6 years He became a Christian, then a Muslim, then a Yogi, then a devotee of Lord Krishna, and many others, including the one-off use of psychedelic drugs for spiritual experiences, and followed science too. But nothing truly worked. Instead, over course of time, Ishwar Ji realized that Sant Mat’s ‘surat shabd yoga’ is the perfect form of holy meditation for true self-realization, that eventually leads to true God-realization. So, He returned to Great Master and told Him so, and thus resumed the high inner practice of surat shabd yoga meditation, alongside sincere devotion to the high truth of Sant Mat (“Path of the Saints” into which he was formally Initiated/Baptized by Great Master some years earlier).
Thus, from 1942 to 1946 Ishwar Ji especially devoted Himself whole-heartedly to Sant Mat spiritual practice and soon attained inner experiences, as well as witnessing outer miracles.
Then, after hearing a discourse by Great Master about striking a deal with the Lord in which you can offer the Lord something and request something in return, Ishwar Ji went to Great Master to confirm if this was true. Upon confirmation, Ishwar Ji, being clever in thought, cheekily asked Great Master this: “can I give to you all the pain and suffering that I am to experience in this world in return for all the joy and bliss you have?” To His surprise, Great Master agreed, and so the deal was done. Thus, He was convinced, and has never left the Path, again. He often says, in His later talks, that He has kept His side of the deal by handing over all worries & problems to His Master and His Master has in return kept His side of the deal by giving abundant joy. He further says that actually anyone can do this deal, the only problem for most is that they are not ready, meaning, they cannot truly let go of their problems or fears (lack of faith & trust) and hand them over to the Lord or Holy Master, and so the deal cannot be struck. This, Ishwar Ji would say is His reason behind His nonchalance and His countenance.
During this time, Ishwar Ji also discovered that there are two ways to attain self (God-realization) in Sant Mat – the long way and the short way – but both were equally effective. The long way that most disciples seem to follow is through ardent and forced spiritual practice (great effort), while the short way is simply to become attached, through gratitude, love & devotion, to one’s salvation Master, which means that you can witness whatever your Holy Master does and go wherever He goes (effortlessness). Thus, when bestowed with the grace of the Lord or Holy Master (the Lord’s true representative on Earth) one needs nothing more, despite one’s mind thinking otherwise.
Following the passing away of Great Master in 1948, Ishwar Ji found Himself going from job to job in the physical world, trying many different things, from business to employment, till eventually settling down into an official govt role of ‘Public Relations Officer’ and ‘Chief Secretary of State of Punjab’, in North India, ‘Commissioner of Police’, ‘Vice Chancellor of Punjab University’ that gave Him access to high officials and celebrities, including the Dalai Lama, Prince Charles etc.
Then, in the 1960s, Ishwar Ji attended Harvard University prior to retiring from service with the Government of India. Thereafter, He established citizenship in the United States of America. Following this, He acted as a psychology consultant and advisor in various roles across America till official retirement the mid 1990’s.
Since then, Ishwar Ji has continued to perform His spiritual talks around the world, helping seekers to discover the Holy Truth of God within themselves.
While continuing to travel around the world conducting meditation retreats & spiritual discourses, He also served as a Consultant, Board Chairman, and Sr. Advisor to a number of corporations worldwide. Remarkably, even at an advanced age (90 years old), Ishwar Ji performed His duty with diligence and devotion to His spiritual Master, without complaint or difficulty. Indeed, despite having a rich education and professional experience, Ishwar Ji’s main goal was to serve His beloved spiritual Master in whatever way His Master saw fit.
From the mid 1960s Great Master mandated Ishwar Ji to help seekers of high spiritual truth, on His behalf, to attain truth-realization, via satsang and spiritual Initiation. Thus, in 1964 Ishwar Ji set up ISHA (Institute for the Study of Human Awareness) in the USA – a non-profit educational organization – designed to help sincere seekers of spiritual truth to attain what He has achieved, for themselves, on behalf of His Holy Master.
Now, during His time in this world Ishwar Ji has met all other current Masters of various spiritual Paths, as well as major spiritual leaders/teachers worldwide, and so possesses great knowledge of many systems, beliefs and practices. For more than fifty years He has conducted lectures, workshops, and other events on the nature of God, consciousness and human awareness. His lectures and teachings have been recorded and transcribed into numerous books and other materials. Each of His many lecture presentations is founded upon His own unique experience, where He expresses Himself with humility and love. His broad range of lecture topics include science, philosophy, religion, spiritual awareness, human relations, education, health, and the nature of consciousness.
Today, Ishwar Ji has estimated there to be over 700 offshoots branching from the original Sant Mat following of Soami Ji Maharaj (founder of the modern form of Sant Mat (the Radha Soami Sant Mat faith); 1818-1878), some more true to the original than others. Today, Ishwar Ji continues to Initiate (spiritually awaken) requesting seekers every year, in His Master’s name, and operates predominantly in the West. This is because His Holy Master, Baba Sawan Singh Ji, stated back in the 1940’s that the axis of spirituality will be shifting from the East to the West and that Ishwar Ji should represent this change.
Nevertheless, Ishwar Ji has said that He relishes every moment, experience and memory that He has had in company of Great Master. Indeed, Ishwar Ji continued His service to Great Master by sharing His spiritual experiences, Great Master’s Sant Mat teachings, and best practices for ‘Surat Shabd Yoga’ in His spiritual lectures. These practices & spiritual lectures can guide any seeker who seeks the real truth, including the knowing of the true self, the purpose of human life and the secret of getting out of the cycle of life and rebirth.
2020 witnessed deadly threats to humankind and the environment. It placed that world in peril. The threat of a viral pandemic had surfaced several times in the 21st century, as diseases that originated in animals found new opportunities to infect humans. An earlier deadly outbreak of a coronavirus occurred in 2003, in a disease known as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). None spread as widely as the virus that caused COVID-19 would later, but with each new strain, scientists warned that it was only a matter of time before a more serious pandemic struck.