(100) NO WASTE
12th March, 1947
Recently Bhagavan wrote the birthday verses and “Ekatma Panchakam”, didn’t he? He was writing them on bits of rough paper that absorbed ink and as I felt pained that the divine letters that looked like a string of pearls should have been written on bits of rough paper, I said to him, “It would be better if they are written in a notebook.” “This is all right,” he replied, “if I write them in a notebook somebody will recognise my writing and take it away. There is no such fear now. The Swami is the common property of all.” And he declined to accept my suggestion.
As some alterations were made this morning in the birthday verses, I wanted a small piece of white paper to note them down and paste them in my notebook but on searching for it in the hall, there was none. I had no patience to go home to fetch the paper and so, without any hesitation or fear, I told Bhagavan that I would ask for some from the office. When I went there, they showed me some nice paper.
I took one sheet for myself and also said that it would be nice for Bhagavan to write on, if only some sheets of paper are supplied to him. “Then take them,” they said, and gave me four sheets. I took them to Bhagavan and suggested that he should use them for his writings, so that they could afterwards be pasted in a book. I asked if the paper should be put on the shelf. He said, “Where is it from? Did you get it from the office?” I said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Why do I need it? If you want, you can keep it for yourself. I shall tear bits of paper from the newspapers, keep them carefully and write on them. Why do I need such good paper?” As I could not answer, I put it on the shelf.
It was about 9 a.m. After the post was received and disposed of, Bhagavan began reading the newspaper. He saw there a blank portion of about four inches. He began folding it and tearing it off. He was smiling at me, but I could not understand why. After tearing it off he folded it nicely and, putting it on the shelf said, “Look, I shall use this paper for my writings. How else could I get any paper? Where can I go to get any? Isn’t this good enough for my writings?” I replied, “So this is to teach us a lesson. Bhagavan is always teaching us lessons, but we are not learning them.” Bhagavan smiled and kept quiet.
Sometimes people here who receive books by post bring the books into the hall together with the papers wrapped around them. Bhagavan nicely folds the wrapping and says to the attendants, “Look! Keep this carefully. We shall cover some other book with it. How can we get such paper if we need it? What is thus acquired is a net gain.” Daily the inward letters are brought from the office for Bhagavan’s perusal.
Amongst them, officials like you fold the paper and write on one side, leaving the rest unused. Bhagavan tears off such bits of unwritten paper and keeps them. The same is the case with pins. After reading the papers, the pins are taken out and handed over to the attendants, saying, “These will be useful when we want them. They will otherwise be merely thrown away. We shall use them. How should we get new ones? They have to be bought. Where is the money?” While living on the hill, Bhagavan personally used to prepare ladles, spoons, cups and the like from out of coconut shells. Till recently he was making cups and spoons of coconut shells and polish them like ivory and tell the attendants, “Look, keep these carefully. They will be useful on occasions.
How could we get silver and gold articles? These are our silver cups and golden spoons. The hands won’t get burnt.
They won’t be contaminated like metalware. It will be pleasant to use them.” Not only that, when he takes any refreshments or Malayalam kanji (gruel) Bhagavan uses only those articles.
Whenever Batavia or Kamala oranges and the like are received, the skins are not allowed to be thrown away, and chutneys and pickles are made out of them. They are also used in soup or put to other such uses. Besides this, while taking food, not a morsel is thrown away or discarded. He thus shows us, by his own example, that not a single useful article should be wasted.
If someone brings roses and presents them, Bhagavan presses them against his eyes, puts them on the clock, eats the petals when they get dry and fall off and gives some of them to those near him. Once when someone brought a rose garland, it was used to decorate the idol in the Mother’s temple and afterwards thrown out by the priests into a waste basket along with other flowers. Bhagavan saw that when he went out and, getting angry with them, collected all the petals and had them mixed with payasam (pudding), which thus got a delicious flavour and excellent taste. On his way to the hill, if he chances to see any useful leaves, he will pluck them along with his attendants, give instructions about cooking them and thus arrange for a delicious dish. He likes preparations which do not cost anything rather than those that are costly. All this may appear to be quite commonplace, but if we think it over carefully, we will find it a good lesson for us. It means, he teaches us that we could live comfortably on small means.