(18) LEOPARDS AND SNAKES
1st January, 1946
The other day I learnt of one more incident in Bhagavan’s life on the hill and so I am writing to you about it. When Bhagavan was living in Virupaksha Cave, the roar of a leopard was heard from the place where drinking water was available nearby. By the time the scared devotees had gathered some plates and drums in order to make a noise and drive the leopard away, it had drunk the water it required and gone away with one more roar. Bhagavan looked at those frightened devotees and said to them in anadmonishing tone, “Why do you worry so much? The leopard intimated to me by the first roar that she was coming here. After drinking water she told me by another roar that she was going. She went her own way. She never meddled with your affairs. Why are you so scared? This mountain is the home of these wild animals, and we are their guests. That being so, is it right on your part to drive them away?” Perhaps with the intention of relieving them of their fears, Bhagavan added, “A number of siddha purushas (holy beings) live on this mountain. It is perhaps with a desire to see me that they come and go, assuming various shapes. Hence, you see it is not right for you to disturb them.” From that time onwards, the leopard used to come frequently to that place to drink. Whenever the roar was heard, Bhagavan used to say, “There you are! The leopard is announcing her arrival.” Then again he used to say, “The leopard announces her departure.” In this manner he used to be quite at ease with all the wild animals.
One devotee asked Bhagavan whether it is true that, when living on the mountain, he was friendly with snakes, and one snake crawled over his body, one climbed up his leg and so on. In reply, Sri Bhagavan said: “Yes, it is true. A snake used to come to me in all friendliness. It used to try to crawl on my leg. At its touch my body used to feel as though it was tickled, so I withdrew my leg; that is all. That snake used to come of its own accord and go away.”