Letter 121

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28th May, 1947
Often it happens that in Bhagavan’s presence fruits and sweets are brought and placed before him; sometimes they are served on his leaf while taking meals and at times they are brought into the hall and Bhagavan is asked to eat them in the presence of all the people there. It is all right if they are new people but if they are old devotees Bhagavan would remark, “What more is there to do? Naivedya is over. Perhaps camphor also will be burnt?” or “Will swamitvam (the role of a Swami) be lost unless I eat whenever asked and do as requested?” If they are Asramites, he would even administer a mild rebuke, saying, “Why all this, instead of looking to the purpose for which you have come?”

It is, I believe, a year back, that one morning I brought fried jowar at the breakfast time, gave it to the people in charge of the kitchen and said nothing. What of that? As soon as I went to the hall Bhagavan complained, “I have eaten all sorts of foodgrains. Why do you take all this work on yourself?” From that time onwards, I have not been giving the Ashram anything prepared at home.

Recently when you sent figs and other fruit, I gave them to Bhagavan’s attendants secretly as I was afraid of what Bhagavan would say if I gave them in the presence of all the people. They waited for a suitable opportunity and gave them to Bhagavan. He did not say anything at the time, but you know what happened four or five days later? I went to the Ashram in the afternoon at 2-30. There was no one else with Bhagavan except the attendants. Squirrels were scrambling about the sofa and indirectly demanding their food. Bhagavan was emptying the tin and was saying “Sorry, nothing in it,” and turning towards me, he said, “The cashew nuts are finished. They do not like groundnuts. What am I to do?” I looked at the attendants enquiringly. They said that there were no cashew nuts even in the storeroom. The squirrels did not stop their fuss. I had to do something. At the same time I was afraid what Bhagavan would say if I got some from the bazar.

In the evening when someone was going to town, I gave him money to bring ten palams (1.5 kilograms) of cashew nuts.

The person who brought them did not give them to me immediately but gave them the next morning at 9 o’clock. Afraid of what Bhagavan would say if I gave them in his presence, I gave the packet to the attendant, Krishnaswamy, after Bhagavan had gone out at 9-25 a.m. I do not know what happened in the noon. I went to the Ashram at 2-30 p.m. and stayed on till 4.

This topic never came up. I felt greatly relieved, went home, came back in the evening at 6 and sat in the hall at a distance.

Veda Parayana was over. Krishnaswamy was pouring into a tin the cashewnuts I gave him. Bhagavan saw and asked him who gave them. He said, “Nagamma.” “When?” asked Bhagavan.

“At 9-45 a.m. when Bhagavan went out,” said the attendant.

“Is that so? Why not give it in my presence? Why this secrecy? Because I suppose she was afraid Bhagavan would be angry. These pranks have not been given up yet. Perhaps it is at her instance that Subbulakshmi brought cashewnuts a short while ago and gave them secretly to Satyananda through the window and slipped out. In addition, she gave an excuse to the effect that Athai (Bhagavan’s sister) had asked them to be given. She put it on to Athai as she thought I would not say anything in that event. These are the silly acts of people here. Why do they indulge in these things instead of confining themselves to the purpose for which they have come here? They try to hoodwink Swami. They do not know that they themselves are getting hoodwinked. This weakness has not left them in spite of years of stay here. Have they come here for this purpose?” said Bhagavan in a thundering voice.

As I sat there, I became still as a statue. I never told Subbulakshmamma nor did I know of her giving the cashewnuts. But I could not venture to open my mouth to mention the facts. I was however reminded of the purpose for which I had come. I thought that the lion’s dream known as Guru Kataksha was like this. The clock struck the half- hour. Startled by it, I looked at it and found it was 6-30 p.m.

As that is the hour at which ladies have to leave the Ashram, all of them were slowly going away. I got up somehow and bowed before Bhagavan. He was looking at me with piercing eyes indicating anger coupled with sympathy. I could not look at that majestic personality, and so without raising my head, I came home and went to sleep. Next morning it was broad daylight by the time I woke up. I realised that the reason for the rebuke, which was like a precept, was not merely the cashewnuts but my forgetfulness of the purpose for which I had come to the Ashram, namely the acquiring of jnana. There must be many instances of such forgetfulness and so I prayed to Bhagavan in my mind to forgive me.

I got up, finished my morning routine quickly and went to the Ashram. No sooner did I step into the hall than Bhagavan, with a face radiant with smiles, brought up my case for enquiry. It became clear that I never told Subbulakshmamma, and that Alamelu Athai herself sent those nuts through Subbulakshmamma for the squirrels as they were left over after the Shashtiabdhapurthi (completion of 60th year) celebrations of her husband. “Is that so! The story has now taken a different turn. Even so, why the secrecy? Anyway, it is all over now.” So saying Bhagavan changed the topic and tried to cover up the whole incident by consoling words. But I have not been able to forget it even now:

Men are bound down by desire, activity and much worry; they do not realize the shortening of life-span. Hence awake! awake! These words of the ancients are worth remembering.

So far as I am concerned, the words that Bhagavan spoke, the looks that he cast with a feeling that this child, without realising how fast time flies, was wasting her time on trivialities, were imprinted on my heart. Brother, how can I write the full implications of that incident! After all, Bhagavan is a Jnanadatha (Giver of Jnana)!

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