(14) CONVENTIONAL RESPECT
12th December, 1945
One morning, during the usual conversations the topic turned on Bhagavan’s mother coming away to live with him and on her manner of life, and Bhagavan spoke to us as follows: “Mother began coming here frequently and staying with me for long periods. You know I always address even beasts and birds in a respectful manner. In the same way, I used to address Mother also with the respectful form of speech. It then occurred to me that I was doing something hurtful. So I gave up the practice and began addressing her in the familiar way. If a practice is natural and has become habitual you feel uncomfortable at changing it. But anyway what do these bodily things matter?” He spoke with deep feeling and my eyes filled with tears.
Before the dawn of youth appeared on his face he had relinquished all worldly desires, and with Divine desire he hastened to the holy Arunachala where he reigns in the Kingdom of Eternal Bliss. How can one speak of the enormous fortune of that mother, in having had the privilege of being called ‘Amma’ (mother) by such a son? In the Vedas, the mother holds the first claim for worship: “Mathru devo bhava” (Let mother be your God). Even so, the beauty of it is that Bhagavan felt it unnatural for him to address her in the respectful form. If he addressed her so, would she not feel hurt? She felt satisfied only if he addressed her as “Mother.” Perhaps Bhagavan felt that he ought not to wound her feelings in so small a matter.
“When my Mother passed away I thought I had escaped bondage and could freely move from place to place and live in solitude in some cave or other, but in fact I have now an even greater bondage; I cannot even move out.” Bhagavan often speaks in this way. Mother he had only one, but children he has in thousands, so is not this greater bondage? I tell you, the other day, hearing that Skandasramam was being repaired, he went there at noon, along with his attendant Rangaswami, just to see, without telling anybody, intending to return quietly. But what happened? We all went there, wild with excitement and surrounded him, and would not allow him to move. It was only with great difficulty that he managed to return with the whole crowd by about 8 p.m.
A fortnight later, the labourers reported to Bhagavan that they had finished constructing the path to Skandasramam and begged him to have a look at it.
Bhagavan said, “We shall see.” That morning we all expressed our keen desire to go there. Bhagavan cajoled us, saying, “We will all go there for a picnic some time later.” Then in the evening at about 5 o’clock he went out as usual for his walk on the hill and from there slipped away quietly to Skandasramam. As soon as this became known, men and women alike began going up the hill with torches and lanterns regardless of the approaching darkness. It was one thing for people who do not know Bhagavan’s ways to follow him up the hill, but I thought that I, who knew how things were, ought not to go. Twice I started to go up and returned after reaching the first turning, but finally I could not resist the temptation to follow the crowd. Just as the monkey cannot change its nature, however we cajole it, so my mind’s natural tendencies reasserted themselves, however much I tried to control them. What is the use of being sorry about it afterwards? Actually, when all his children came up like that in the darkness, how grieved Bhagavan must have felt that there was no place for them to sit and nothing for them to eat.
That is why in his overflowing kindness he later arranged a regular feast for them all there. How could he manage this enormous family but for his wonderful controlling ability? How could he manage to be so detached even in the midst of this big family were he not full of profound peace? Remember, there is nothing beyond the power of the great Master.