(104) HEADSHIP OF A MUTT
5th April, 1947
[* A Mutt/Math is an independent monastary.]
The same devotee who questioned Bhagavan yesterday about human effort in the individual’s action, today told him about his ill health, treatment by doctors and services rendered to him by his servants and said, “Swamiji! We are unable to keep this body of ours in good condition and so entrust it to the care of doctors and servants. When the body itself is not under our control, what is the use of people talking of reforming the world?” Do you know that for the last five or six months Bhagavan is not allowing anybody to touch his legs or massage them with oil, and that he himself does it whenever necessary? Hence he did not reply to the devotee’s question immediately, but in the evening, when the devotees all gathered, he began massaging his legs with oil, and looking at the questioner with a smile, said, “We are our own doctors and our own servants.”
Again the questioner said, “What are we to do if we do not have strength like Bhagavan’s to attend to our own work?”
Bhagavan’s reply was, “If we have the strength to eat, why should we not have the strength to do this?” The questioner could not say anything and so kept silent with bent head. Just then the post arrived. After looking through the letters, Bhagavan began narrating as follows:
“Once a certain sannyasi was anxious to be the head of a mutt. He had to have disciples, you see. He tried his level best to secure some. Any one who came, soon found out the limited knowledge of the person and so went away. No one stayed on.
What could he do? One day he had to go to a city. There he had to keep up his position, but he had no disciple. ‘No one must know this’, he thought. His bundle of clothes was on his head. So, he thought he would place the bundle in some house unobserved and then pretend to go there afterwards. He wandered throughout the place. Whenever he tried to step into a house, he found a number of people in front of it. Poor chap! What could he do? It was almost evening. He was tired.
At last, he found a house with no one in front. The door was open. Greatly relieved, he placed the bundle in one corner of the house and then sat in the verandah. After a while the lady of the house came out and enquired of him who he was. ‘Me! I am the head of a mutt in such and such a place. I came to this city on some work. I heard that you were good householders. I therefore sent my belongings through my disciple to put them in your house, thinking that we could put up with you for the night and go away next morning. Has he done so?’ ‘No one has come, sir,’ she said. ‘No, please check. I asked him to put the bundle here, go to the bazar and get some things. Kindly see if he has put it in any corner,’ he said. When the lady searched the house, she saw the bundle in one corner.
Thereupon her husband and she welcomed him and gave him food and a room to sleep in. Rather late in the night, they asked, ‘How is it, sir, your disciple has not come yet?’ He said, ‘Perhaps that useless fellow has eaten something in the bazar and is wandering about. You please go to bed. If he comes, I will open the door for him.’ “That couple had, by then, understood the sannyasi’s true position. They thought they would see further fun and so went into the house to lie down. Then the person started his pretensions. He opened the door and closed it, making a loud noise so as to be heard by the members of the household.
He then said loudly, ‘Why! What have you been doing so long? Take care, if you do it again, I shall beat you black and blue. Be careful henceforth.’ Changing his tone thereafter, he said in a plaintive voice, ‘Swami, Swami please excuse me. I shall not do it again.’ Assuming the original tone, he said, ‘All right. Come here, massage my legs, here; no, there; please hit lightly with your fists. Yes, a little more.’ So saying, he massaged his own legs and then said, ‘Enough; it is rather late, go to bed.’ So saying he went to sleep. There was a hole in the wall of the room where the couple were staying and through it they saw the whole farce.
In the early morning the sannyasi again began repeating the evening’s performance, saying, ‘You lazy fellow! The cocks have begun to crow. Go to so and so’s house and come back after doing such and such work.’ So saying, he opened the door, pretended to send him away and went back to bed. The couple saw this also.
In the morning he bundled up his belongings, put the bundle in a corner, and went to a tank nearby for bathing, etc. The couple took the bundle and hid it somewhere. The sannyasi returned and searched the whole room but the bundle was not found anywhere. So he asked the lady of the house, ‘Where is my bundle?’ The couple then replied, ‘Sir, your disciple came here and took away the bundle saying you wanted him to bring it to you. It is the same person who massaged your legs last night.
He must be round the corner. Please see, Swami.’ What could he do then? He kept his mouth shut and started going home.”