(12) “GO THE WAY YOU CAME”
2nd December, 1945
On another occasion, an Andhra youth came and said, “Swami, having a great desire for moksha (deliverance) and anxious to know the way thereto, I have read all sorts of books on Vedanta. They all describe it, each in a different way. I have also visited a number of learned people and when I asked them, each recommended a different path. I got puzzled and have come to you; please tell me which path to take.”
With a smile on his face, Bhagavan said, “All right, then, go the way you came.”
We all felt amused at this. The poor young man did not know what to say. He waited until Bhagavan left the hall and then with a depressed look turned to the others there appealingly, and said, “Gentlemen, I have come a long way with great hope and with no regard for the expenses or discomfort, out of my ardent desire to know the way to moksha; is it fair to tell me to go the way I came. Is this such a huge joke?”
Thereupon one of them said, “No, sir, it is no joke. It is the most appropriate reply to your question. Bhagavan’s teaching is that the enquiry, ‘Who am I?’ is the easiest path to moksha. You asked him which way ‘I’ should go, and his saying, ‘Go the way you came,’ meant that if you investigate and pursue the path from which that ‘I’ came, you will attain moksha.” The voice of a Mahatma indicates the truth even when speaking in a light vein. Thereupon the book, “Who am I?” was placed in the hands of the young man who felt astonished at the interpretation, and taking Bhagavan’s words as upadesa, prostrated himself to Bhagavan and went away.
Bhagavan usually gives us his teachings either in a humorous or a casual way or by way of consolation. During my early days at the Ashram, whenever I felt like going home, I would approach Bhagavan at some time when there were hardly any people present and say, “I want to go home, Bhagavan, but I am afraid of falling back into family muddles.” He would reply, “Where is the question of our falling into anything when all comes and falls into us?”
On another occasion, I said, “Swami, I am not yet freed from these bonds.” Bhagavan replied,
“Let what comes come, let what goes go. Why do you worry?”
Yes, if only we could realise what that ‘I’ is, we should not have all these worries.