Letter 63

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19th August, 1946
Bhagavan told Rajagopala Iyer to bind into the form of books the four copies of proofs of the Tamil work Chatvarimsat which had been recently received from the printing press. By the time I went there in the afternoon at 2-30 p.m. the books were ready; only the outer cover had to be put on. Showing the copies to the people around, Bhagavan said laughingly to Vaikuntavas who was by his side, “See, if we make good use of these proofs, we will have four more copies of the book. How else could we get four copies? Who would give them to us? We should have to buy them at the bookstall. Where would we get the money?” We were all amused, and Vaikuntavas laughed.

“Why do you laugh? Am I doing a job and earning a salary of several hundred every month? Or am I doing business and earning lakhs? Where should I get money? What independence have I? If I am thirsty, I must ask you for water. If I went to the kitchen instead and asked, they would say, ‘Oh, this Swami has started exercising authority over us’. I have to keep my mouth shut. What independence have I,” said Bhagavan.

What other intention can he have than to administer a mild rebuke to all when he talks like this, though he is independent of everything in this world? Not only this. We always act freely according to our wishes. We ask for this and for that and become enslaved to desires. We achieve our desires by asking or ordering. Bhagavan depreciates not only the use of authority in such matters, but even obtaining such things by asking. There was another instance.

Two or three years ago, as I entered the hall one morning, Bhagavan was saying as follows in reply to several questions which Krishnaswami was asking: “When I was in Virupaksha Cave, Sundaresa Iyer used to go out into the town for bhiksha and bring us food. At times, there used to be no curry or chutney. People to eat were many while the food obtained was limited. What were we to do? I used to mix it into a paste and pour hot water over it to make it like gruel, and then give a glassful to each, and take one myself. Sometimes we all used to feel that it would be better if we had at least some salt to mix with it.

But where was the money to buy salt? We should have had to ask someone for it. If once we begin to ask for salt, we would feel like asking for dhal (lentils), and when we ask for dhal, we would feel like asking for payasam (sweet dish made of milk, like kheer) and so on. So we felt that we should not ask for anything, and swallowed the gruel as it was. We used to feel extremely happy over such diet. As the food was satvic, without spices of any kind, and there was not even salt in it, not only was it healthy for this body, but there was also great peace for the mind.” “Is salt also one of those things that stimulates rajas, (passion)?” I asked. “Yes. What doubt is there? Is it not said so in one of the granthas (books)? Wait, I will look it up and tell you,” said Bhagavan. “Isn’t it enough if Bhagavan says so? Why a grantha?” I said.

Not only do we not give up salt, but we always feel that chillies also are necessary for taste. That is how we have our rules and regulations about our eating habits. Great souls eat to live and serve the world, while we live to eat. That is the difference. If we eat to live, there is no need to think of taste. If we live to eat, the tastes are limitless. And for this purpose, we undergo ever so many trials and tribulations.