Letter 151


22nd October, 1947

Bhagavan’s body has become much reduced of late and some of the devotees have been saying that it is due to his not taking enough of nourishing food. Having heard this a Bengali lady brought some pieces of guava sprinkled with salt and chilly powder, and said beseechingly, “Bhagavan, you are getting very thin; it is good to eat fruit like this. Please accept
my humble offering.”
Bhagavan said with a smile, “Who is it that is thinner?
You or I?”
She said it was Bhagavan.

Bhagavan: “That is nice. Who exactly has grown thin will be known if the weight is taken. If you like, you may eat those fruits every day yourself. Why this for me? It is all right; you have brought them to day, but please do not bring them again.” So saying, Bhagavan took a few pieces and said to his attendants, “See how lean she is! Please give her several
of these pieces and distribute the rest to the others.”

One of those who could venture to talk to Bhagavan more freely said, “Bhagavan, you have recently very much reduced the amount of food you take daily. It’s not good.”
“Oho!” said Bhagavan. “Who told you that? I am taking whatever I require. What good would there be in my taking more food and getting fat? By getting fat, do you know how
many ailments one suffers? The more you eat, the greater will grow the strength of the ailment. If you eat just what is necessary, ailments will be avoided.”

“Why have you given up taking even pepper-water and buttermilk?” said another devotee.

“You enquire why?” said Bhagavan. “If you observe what is being done when the meals are served, you yourself will understand. Buttermilk is brought into the dining hall in big
buckets with large ladles. When taking out the buttermilk for serving me, the ladle is full, but when the same is served to the very next person, the ladle is only half full. When I saw
that, I got disgusted and felt that I myself should not take any more than half a ladleful.”

“Why not at least take fruit juice?” said the devotee.

“So this has started again!” said Bhagavan. “Everyone says the same thing. How will all that be possible for me?”
“What do you mean, Bhagavan? We get quite a lot of fruit. Why say that it is impossible? You yourself have stated that what is offered voluntarily can be accepted.”
“So that is it!” said Bhagavan. “If I did say that such offerings could be accepted, did that mean that the people around could be ignored?”
“True,” said the devotee, “but quite a lot of fruit is received; it can be distributed to the others too.”
“All is very well,” said Bhagavan, “but where have we the wherewithal to give them all? The fruit is shown here to the Swami as an offering, a naivedya, and then taken away. It is kept locked in the store room. The keys are in the charge of the store-keeper. Who will go and ask him? In the same way, the various articles here are in the custody of someone or other; I have none. This is the result of being a spiritual preceptor!” said Bhagavan smiling.

It seems that some fifteen days back, someone brought some green pepper. Bhagavan had that pepper, some myrobalams, acetic acid, salt and other ingredients mixed, ground and made into little pills. Today Sivanandan came in to enquire whether he could get the pills for Bhagavan, as
they are supposed to be good against phlegm and Bhagavan had been using them now and then during the cold weather.

As Sivanandan had not enquired about them all these fifteen days and is doing it only now, Bhagavan said with a laugh, “I see, you have now remembered about them. Yes, yes, you have been waiting to see whether I would ask for them, and thereby test me. Were I to ask, you would say, ‘What is this? Swami has begun to ask about everything and is worrying us’. What am I to do? They feel that if they but salute me once, I should thereafter do everything they want. People say that spiritual preceptorship (swamitvam), is a matter for happiness. But see, this is what it is to be a spiritual preceptor.

Would it not be good if a book is written on spiritual preceptorship?”
“Bhagavan is saying something unusual,” said a devotee.

Bhagavan replying with a smile, said, “What is there unusual about it? It is all true. ‘Swami is seated on a sofa with a soft mattress spread on it. What is there for him to worry about?’ That is what people think. But do they know about our troubles? That is why I say that it would be good for a big book to be written on spiritual preceptorship. If all the things that have happened here during the last years had been written in the form of a book, it would be as big as the Mahabharatham! Anyone who cares to write it, may do so even now!” he said.

“Who would write all that?” said a devotee.

“Why not?” said Bhagavan. “If a book recording these events is written, all people will then know that spiritual preceptorship consists in saying, ‘Yes, yes,’ and ‘All right, all
right’. What is the difficulty in writing about it?”

So saying, Bhagavan looked at me and with a laugh said, “Why? If you like, you can write it!”

Letter 150


18th October, 1947

Recently, owing to some maladjustment in diet, Bhagavan’s health has been somewhat indifferent. Noticing this, a rich devotee, by name Kamala Rani, sent a soup made of costly vegetables and sweet grapes to the Ashram one morning, with a request that it might be served to Bhagavan.

As it was received just as Bhagavan was about to take his food, Bhagavan accepted it.

Next day, she again prepared it in the same way and sent it to the Ashram. But this time, looking at his attendants, Bhagavan said, “Why this daily? Please tell her not to send it henceforth.”

The lady, however, sent it the following day too.

“There!” said Bhagavan, “It has come again. She will not stop sending it. I should have said ‘No’ at the very beginning. It was my mistake to have accepted it.”
A devotee said, “At present, Bhagavan is much run down.

She is perhaps sending it because a liquid preparation with grapes might be good for Bhagavan’s health.”
“Oho!” Bhagavan exclaimed, “Is that so? And have you authority to plead on her behalf?”
“That is not it, Bhagavan. I am saying so because I thought that such preparations might be good for the health.”
“May be so,” rejoined Bhagavan, “but such things are for rich people, not for us.”
“That devotee says that she herself will prepare it and send it,” persisted the devotee.

“That is all right,” replied Bhagavan, “and if so, please find out if she could supply the same thing for all the people who sit here.”
“Why to all people?” asked the devotee.

“Then why to me alone?” said Bhagavan.

“It is possible to do it, if it is for Bhagavan alone, but would it be possible to prepare the same costly food for everyone?” said the devotee.

“Yes, that is just it,” said Bhagavan, “everyone says the same thing, ‘We will do it for Bhagavan alone’. Yet, if it is good for Bhagavan, is it not good for all others? If, with the amount spent on this preparation, broken rice were brought and rice-gruel (kanji) prepared, a hundred people could partake of it. Why this expensive preparation for me alone?”

“Our anxiety is that Bhagavan’s body should be healthy.”
“That is all right,” Bhagavan rejoined, “but do you mean to say that health could be maintained only if soup prepared from grapes and costly vegetables is taken? If it were so, then rich people should all be enjoying good health. Why is it then that they are more unhealthy and sickly than the others? The satisfaction that poor people get by taking sour rice-gruel cannot be had from anything else. In olden days, when we were doing the cooking during summer, we used to have a pot into which we put all the cooked rice left over, fill it up with water, a little buttermilk, a little rice-gruel, dry ginger and lemon leaves, and set it aside. It would get sour, cool and clear. The liquid used to be drunk with a pinch of salt by all of us by the tumblerful, and we used to feel very happy. No one had any illness whatsoever. Even now, if I were to drink two tumblerfuls of such water, all my ailments would disappear. But then
nobody prepares it for me.

‘Aye! Aye! How could we give sour milk gruel to Swami?’ they say. What is to be done? To prepare soup of this sort will cost a rupee. If, with that money, millet (ragi) were brought and ground into flour, it would last for about a month for preparing gruel from it which is very healthy and nutritive. The amount spent on a single meal could be utilized for the living of a person for a month. I took all those things while I was on the hill and I used to be very satisfied. Now, who will do that? Grape
juice, tomato soup and the like are offered to me. Why do I require such things? Tell her not to send the soup from tomorrow.”

The thing stopped there. Bhagavan told us several times that while he was living on the hill he was eating bilva fruit (a sort of wood-apple) for some days and sustaining himself on it.

Bhagavan does not like to eat any food without sharing it with the people around him.