Short story — Deception and God-realisation are two eternal strangers1Venu was a married man who, with his wife, Rekha, was leading a very spiritual life. Venu and Rekha had two children, who were also very spiritual. When Venu reached middle age he felt the necessity of entering into an ashram to devote himself to the spiritual life. Rekha wanted to do the same and their son and daughter, who were now teenagers and leading a pure life, gladly followed the example of their parents.
Venu had inherited a very large sum of money at the time of his father’s death, and as he was also a diamond dealer by profession, Venu was a very rich man. Venu gave up his business, collected all his money and offered it to his spiritual Master. Then he and his whole family went to the Master’s ashram to live.
The Master gave Venu tremendous affection and special attention. Some disciples thought that the Master was doing this just because Venu had given him a very large sum of money. Others thought that it was not because of his money, but because of his love, devotion and surrender to his Master’s will that Venu had become so close to the Master.
But Venu and all the members of his family were liked by hundreds of people at the ashram because of their simplicity, sincerity, kindness and deep feeling for the spiritual life. They were extremely close to one another as well. Indeed, it was a remarkably happy family.
Days passed into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and Venu’s family was celebrating his sixtieth birthday. They had been in the ashram for ten years, and therefore this birthday had special significance for them. That significance was added to the joy and glory of Venu’s most auspicious sixtieth birthday. But alas, the heart of light, delight and joy was captured by destruction-night. On his very birthday Venu was attacked by cholera, and in three hours’ time, death snatched him away. The entire family was thrown into a sea of grief.
The Master was simply shocked at Venu’s abrupt departure from the earthly scene. He invited the whole family to come to him for consolation. Venu's wife and his son and daughter went to their Master shedding soulful tears. The Master blessed them one by one. He said to Venu’s wife, “Rekha, you have lost your husband and I have lost my spiritual son. I do not know whose loss is greater.” Then the Master said to Venu’s son and daughter, “Your father is inside my heart. I have two homes: one is here on earth; the other is in Heaven. Soon I shall take him to my other home with my occult and spiritual power. As you know, I rarely use my occult power, but in this case I am more than willing to use it, for Venu’s soul is extremely dear to my heart.
“I shall tell you something else: your father is bound to come back in five years’ time. He will take birth under my inner guidance and instruction in a very spiritual family. All this I shall do because his soul is extremely dear to me. And I assure you that when the child comes to my ashram, I shall let you know.” Hearing all this, the stricken family was greatly consoled. The Master’s precious words had assuaged their grief. They went back home and shared the secret news with all those who came to console them.
Three years passed by. Eager to see her father again, Venu’s daughter, Mula, asked the spiritual Master if her father had taken a new incarnation yet. The Master said, “Yes, Venu has taken a new incarnation, and in two years you will see him here at my ashram.” Venu’s whole family was highly excited at this blessingful news offered by the Master. They started counting the days. Two years later, a spiritual family came to the ashram with a son who was two years old. This child s name was Kush. The young husband and wife prayed to the Master to give their child a spiritual name, and the Master gave him the name Venu.
Soon the family of the departed Venu came to learn about this Venu. Once more Mula went to the Master and enquired whether this Venu had any connection with her father. The Master said, “Not only does he have the deepest connection, but this Venu is none other than your father.” On hearing this, Mula went home hurriedly and shared the news with her mother and brother, Tushar. They were equally excited with the news. In a few minutes Rekha, Tushar and Mula all went to visit the new Venu. Rekha took some grapes for her child-husband, Tushar took a toy flute for his child-father and Mula took a crayon for her child-father.
Venu’s young mother greeted the family with great love and with all the natural warmth of her heart. She, too, was excited when she heard the news. Since the Master had given this news, none could dare to have a shadow of doubt with regard to his faultless statement.
Every day Rekha came to visit Venu, and she gave the child most delicious fruits and candies to eat. She often brought expensive toys for the little Venu. Venu’s mother and his former wife became very close friends. Venu’s son and daughter also used to come and visit their child-father quite often and offer him toys. They got tremendous joy by playing with him.
But only one thing bothered Tushar a little, and that was that he did not notice anything in the child Venu from which he could asssume that this child had been his father previously. So one day Tushar went to his Master and said, “Master, forgive me. I don’t deny your inner vision. You are the greatest living Master on earth. But how is it that I don’t see anything of my father in this child? His face does not resemble my father’s at all. His movements and gestures are not the same as my father’s.”
The Master replied, “My son, the soul is not bound by anything. The soul has every right to assume a different consciousness and a different mode of life each time it enters into the physical world. Your father’s soul did not feel the necessity of assuming and revealing the same qualities that it had before. His is a very progressive soul. It cares only for the ever-transcending new. New peace, new light and new height are entering into this child. What you actually want and need is the highest achievement from your father and not the outer recognition.”
Tushar touched the feet of his Master and said, ‘Master, you have removed all the doubts from my mind. You have immensely increased my heart’s faith in you. From now on I shall never argue with you. I shall never doubt you. My life of ignorance I place at your feet of light.”
Alas, human life is not always smooth sailing. After some time Venu’s mother and his former wife were at daggers drawn. His mother, observing the way Rekha was gaining love and affection from her child, felt that Rekha would take Venu away from her. She noticed that her son had become more fond of Rekha than of her, his own mother. Sometimes he would cry inconsolably when he did not see Rekha around him. This pained and irritated Venu’s mother deeply. She wrote a sad letter to the Master explaining in detail everything about her most deplorable situation.
The Master consoled Venu’s mother and asked Rekha not to go to Venu’s house daily. Only on rare occasions could she go and visit her child-husband. By this time Venu was four years old. He missed his dearest friend when she did not come and he cried for her and told his mother to bring her back. He wanted to see her daily. Helpless, Venu’s mother wrote another letter to the Master, bringing to his outer notice the deplorable situation in the family. In the meantime, Rekha was also feeling miserable because she was not able to visit her child-husband regularly.
After receiving the second letter from Venu’s mother, the Master sent her the news that he would ask Rekha not to go at all to visit Venu. And this was only the beginning of their sufferings. The Master said that both the parties must remain totally apart. He asked Venu’s mother to tell Venu that Rekha had left the ashram. There were seven thousand disciples living at the ashram, so it would take Venu a few years to discover that his friend had not actually left. The Master then strictly ordered Rekha not to go to Venu’s house anymore. He said, “For forty years you enjoyed the company of your husband. Now let this poor woman enjoy the company of her son for forty years. God is always kind and just. You had Venu; now let her have him.”
The human mind and doubt are inseparable friends. Tushar again started doubting the Master. Granted, this child was his father, he argued. But how was it, he asked himself, that the child never impressed him in any way? He never had any inner feeling for the boy. He thought that something was wrong. And at home his mother was miserable because the Master had prohibited her from seeing her former husband anymore. His sister Mula was also extremely sad at this situation. Tushar was not in a position to console his mother. Who could console her when the Master had made this irrevocable decision? Finally an idea entered his mind. He decided to go and visit another spiritual Master of great eminence whom he had heard much about from his friends and acquaintances.
So one day Tushar went to this Master’s ashram and asked the ashram authorities if he could have an interview with the Master. The Master had a small ashram and only forty disciples, in comparison to Tushar’s Master, who had at least seven thousand disciples. The interview was granted. Tushar narrated his sad story to the spiritual Master and asked whether all that his Master had said about the child was true.
The spiritual Master said, “First of all I must tell you that it is quite immaterial whether or not the child was your father. You will not be able to claim him as a member of your family in any case. You were curious to know about your father. Now look what curiosity has led you to! Misery. I feel especially sorry for your mother. I wish to console her in two ways. When you go home, tell your mother that since she has accepted the spiritual life, it is God alone who is her husband, child, father, mother, brother and sister. God is her all. My philosophy says that the past is dust. Since her past has not given her God-realisation, she should not look into the warehouse of the past, but into the treasure-house of the golden future — the future that will give her love, light and fulfilment in boundless measure. You know perfectly well that curiosity is not spirituality. But God has given me a heart of compassion. Since your mother has been suffering badly over this situation, I shall console her in a special way. If you have faith in me, then listen to me. Get married as soon as possible. In a year’s time I will bring the soul of your father into your family. I shall be able to prove to you, your mother and your sister that this time it is really your father who has come into your family.”
Tushar bowed down to the spiritual Master and touched his feet. Then he went back home and told his mother this incredible story. Rekha immediately arranged for her son’s marriage. In three weeks she found a most beautiful and spiritual girl for him. After one year of marriage, Tushar’s wife was blessed with a child.
When Tushar’s child was one year old he used to stretch out his hands and bless Rekha, his grandmother, most affectionately. This was exactly what Venu used to do to his wife every morning and evening. When the child was two years old he stopped drinking milk. When his mother and grandmother tried to feed him milk, he would say, “No milk! No milk!” The very sight of milk made him sad and angry. Rekha remembered that since she and Venu were married, when he was twenty years old and she was eighteen, she had never seen him drinking milk. Tushar and Mula never saw their father drinking milk either. Apparently Venu had always hated milk.
One day, when the child was four years old, he called out to his grandmother, “Rekha.” Everybody was astonished to hear the name Rekha, since no one in the family could call her by her own name except her husband. The son could not call his mother by her first name, nor could the daughter or the daughter-in-law. The child had never heard his grandmother’s first name. But he said to his grandmother, “Rekha, what have you done with the money?”
Rekha was overwhelmed with delight as she asked, “What money?”
“Don’t you remember that in my bedroom, right under my cot, you and I dug a hole, and there we placed a small tumbler in which we kept twenty thousand rupees for our children?”
Rekha, poor Rekha! She had totally forgotten about the money. She took the child in her arms and brought him to the spot he had spoken of. Tushar dug a hole in that same spot and discovered a large tumbler, and inside it twenty thousand rupees in bills.
When he was seven years old, the child asked his grandmother, “Rekha, where is our Lord? I want to go and see him.” Now Venu had always called his Master ‘Lord,’ and he was the only one in the family who did so. “I want to go and see him. How is it that you don’t speak about him? Are we not in his ashram? Where are my old friends? Are we not in the same place? I wish to go and see my Lord.”
On behalf of his son, Tushar wrote a letter to his Master. By this time the Master had heard about Tushar’s son. He had heard quite a few striking stories about the child, and he had also heard about the Master whom Tushar had visited. On reading Tushar’s letter the Master became simply furious. He wrote a nasty letter to Tushar, saying that he and his whole family had to leave the ashram on that very day. Tushar, his mother, his wife and his sister did not feel at all sorry. On the contrary, they were glad that they could go away from that ashram quite peacefully, without creating any further embarrassment for their Master. Long before this they had been thoroughly convinced that this young child was a reincarnation of their beloved father and husband. By this time they were more than eager to go to the other Master and become his disciples.
A few days later, Tushar’s ex-Master most vehemently attacked his new Master with all his occult power. But the ex-Master was no match for the present Master. The ex-Master inwardly said to the present Master, “Because of you I have lost a spiritual family. Because of you, seven thousand disciples of mine have started losing faith in me.”
Tushar’s present Master replied, “You have played your role, and I have exposed you, your deception, to the world at large. You have over seven thousand disciples, while I have only forty disciples. But I am warning you. Do not exploit innocent and sincere hearts. Otherwise God will expose you again and again, through other instruments like me.
“You thought that since you had seven thousand disciples at your beck and call, you were the greatest spiritual giant; whereas poor me, with forty disciples, could be of no consequence. I tell you, it is not the quantity, not the number of disciples one has, but the quality. God has not given me thousands of disciples, but out of His Infinite Bounty, He has blessed me with occult and spiritual power which far surpasses yours. Therefore, today you have to accept this most deplorable defeat at my hands. I tell you, because of their sincere inner cry and their pure life, my disciples have far surpassed yours. Time will prove it.
“It is not the ego in me that is speaking to you, it is the wisdom-light that is speaking. There is no competition between you and me, and there can be no competition between my spiritual children and your spiritual children. My children and I are walking along one road; you and your children are walking along another road. Our road is sunlit precisely because we are simple, sincere, dedicated and totally consecrated to our goal. No doubt your goal and our goal are one and the same, but the path that you are walking along is very long and narrow because you are consciously and deliberately wedded to deception, darkness and ignorance. Most of your children are in the world of luxury and pleasure. But spiritual life is a life of self-dedication and not a life of constant enjoyment. Be sincere to yourself. Your sincerity will give birth to your children’s sincerity. Sincerity is our eternal safeguard.
“My last warning to you is this: if you again unnecessarily exploit innocent hearts, you will not only lose all your seven thousand disciples, but all your seven thousand disciples will surpass you in the real spiritual world, the world of inner achievement. And what is worse, you will have to get your liberation, salvation and illumination from one of your disciples at a remote future time. Mind you, this will take place hundreds of years from now, when you become totally sincere and dedicated.
“You have a little bit of occult power. But mere acquisition of occult power, no matter how great, does not indicate that one is a God-realised soul. You are a shining example. For you God-realisation is still a far cry. My only advice to you is this: deception and God-realisation are two eternal strangers.”
AUM 1100. 11 January 1974↩